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Duplicate keys via emailed picture: smart or shady?

A new startup allows you to snap a photo of a key and get a copy of it – is this a genius concept or a scary proposition?

keysduplicated

duplicate keys

Duplicate keys the modern way: over email

If you have $5.00, a digital camera or smartphone and know how to follow simple instructions, you can skip the key duplicating machine in the store and get duplicate keys sent right to you without ever leaving your sofa, thanks to KeysDuplicated.com.

Hold the key in your hand in front of a blank area (wall, table) four inches away, shoot the entire key, and keep your fingers in the photo “as a security measure,” the company says. Then, email them to keys(at)keysduplicated.com and with a credit card, you’ll be charged $5.00 which includes shipping and get your duplicated keys through the mail.

The company takes certain security measures by not only requiring fingers in the photo, and says that because a credit card is required in order to ship any keys, so they can trace any fraud back to a specific user and say that while no instances of abuse have arisen so far, they intend on being cooperative with law enforcement inquiries.

They say that keys and all associated information are stored on their server with bank-grade cryptography and shipping information is redacted from our system a few days after keys ship. They say the U.S. mail is the safest way to receive keys. “Your mailslot is a safe place to receive your key when you’re the only one who can access it.” They note that if you are worried about others accessing your box, mail them to your workplace or elsewhere.

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The setup makes a lot of sense and is a genius way to save time and money, especially for industries that rely upon keys regularly.

Duplicate keys via mail is a vulnerable process

The founders of the company are clearly addressing an age-old problem, and it is difficult to say anything disparaging about entrepreneurs, but this process has some vulnerabilities.

Although anyone at any time has been able to lift your keys from your desk or at the gym and zip over to a duplicator within 15 minutes, this new process takes seconds and is completely undetectable. There is no way to verify that the person requesting a copy of a key is actually the key’s owner, and while they do not duplicate any keys where “do not duplicate” is visible, most house keys simply are not engraved with such a message.

Some may worry that the company employees have access to the keys, but because they’re a tiny team based in San Francisco, the concern is truly minimal, but the worries surrounding others swiping your keys when you turn your head, snapping shots and gaining access to your house remain.

Although a stretch, it should be mentioned that anyone who has photographed their house keys, either artistic or informal, and uploaded them online with a username associated is vulnerable. It would take additional research for a stranger to locate your home, but a stalker or ex already knows where you live. Uh oh.

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This process leaves anyone vulnerable, and although the company says they will cooperate with law enforcement, that is only after someone has been victimized. Keys should be more closely guarded at home and at work than you normally would stand guard, because people don’t have to steal the entire set to make a copy, they can just whip out their phone.

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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