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Security Experts Concerned Over KeyMe App

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Security experts are very concerned about a new technology that could put your car and home in jeopardy.

Here is why.

If you've ever been locked out, or lost a critical key, you know the feeling of desperation and the expense it can cause. That was the driving force behind the creation of an app called KeyMe.

It's a technological marvel from the engineering whiz kids at CMU, MIT and NASA.

They developed a way to take pictures of a key and be able to produce a perfect working copy.

They are even putting kiosks in places like Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, and Bed Bath & Beyond where, once you've uploaded images of your keys, you can go get a copy in 30 seconds just by entering your password.

These kiosks are expected to come to Pittsburgh next year.

"We're solving lockouts in this completely innovative way and we're able to copy keys in a more accurate and more secure way than it's ever been done before," KeyMe founder Greg Marsh said.

Marsh said they have taken steps to protect their clients from someone hacking into their system.

"We strictly do not store any personal information like your address or your credit card that could link the key data to a location or a lock," Marsh said.

So, KeyMe has no way of knowing what the key goes to, and no way of knowing who owns the key it is reproducing.

Marsh does not see that as a security threat.

"You have to compare it to the status quo when you go to a locksmith. Does he verify that you are the owner of that key? The answer is no. He has no way of doing that," Marsh said.

But, you do have to be in possession of the key to go to a locksmith or your local hardware store.

With the app, you need only scan a quick picture.

"For someone who does have malicious intentions or a would-be thief," Marsh said. "We are the worst option for that person to copy the key because we are the only platform that can hold that person accountable."

However, it has to be determined that a copied key was used in the theft, where the copy was made, which circles back to KeyMe's position that it has no idea what lock any key it makes fits.

"God bless the entrepreneur. He had a great idea, but from a security standpoint, I am concerned," Bob Meinert of CSI Investigators said.

Meinert has 45 years of experience in law enforcement and investigations and knows a red flag when he sees one. He said having a perfect copy of a key in the wrong hands is dangerous.

"Because during the theft, it doesn't alert people passing by hearing glass break, having a key puts it in a whole different perspective," he said.

In this case, it gives the would-be thief a sense of entitlement as they could simply walk through the front door.

Meinert said the fact that the key can be quickly scanned means everyone must be vigilant about where your keys are at all times.

"Being in an office, being in a restaurant, giving someone keys to go out and get your car, there are a whole bunch of things that can happen that can concern me," he said.

Once the copy of the key is made it could end up in anyone's hands to carry out the crime making it untraceable.

KDKA-TV got the help of homeowner Ryan and Jennifer O'Toole to test the system.

We scanned their house key, ordered a copy, and a few days later, let ourselves into their home using the brand new key.

"This is a very easy way for somebody who's a bit devious to get into somebody else's house they want to get into," Ryan said.

"Even though you had our permission to take the picture and all that, it wasn't your key! So, there are not checks and balances with it. From a picture, you have this key," Jennifer said.

Meinert said if you're concerned about lockouts or lost keys, "You've got to protect your keys. Get your copies made, put them in places where you can locate them, and give them to your trusted neighbors friends and family."

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