Physical Security Books

Physical Security Books

Since beginning the Lock Safari series of articles I have been asked by several of you about physical security books.  Today’s post will quickly cover the four most useful volumes in my library that pertain to physical security.  Some of these books are quite costly; I am not suggesting you need them all.  For this reason I have broken them down into categories.  Exactly half of these books deal with defeating lock through lock picking or other methodology.  I believe an understanding of these techniques is crucial to understanding how to counter them.  This doesn’t mean you need to be a master locksmith or expert lock picker – you don’t.  But if you understand the principles of how these exploits work, you can better understand how to protect your home.


Practical Lock Picking by Deviant Ollam.  I think everyone with an interest in physical security should start here.  This book explains lock picking in the best detail I’ve seen in a printed work.  Ollam explains lockpicking from the ground up.  He starts with lock manufacturing and the fundamentals of the pin-tumbler mechanism.  He goes on to explain how manufacturing tolerances and other factors enable lock picking to occur.  Throughout the work Ollam includes rich illustrations that support the text.  After explaining lock picking great detail, the author also explains some common bypass techniques.  Understanding these techniques is is important if you wish to defend against them, and Practical Lock Picking is at once the simplest and most thorough explanation of most of these I’ve seen.


Keys to the Kingdom by Deviant Ollam.  This is a followup work to Practical Lock PickingKeys to Kingdom focuses on key-based attacks.  Some of these are fairly simplistic in nature, like key bumping and key duplication.  Some of these techniques are incredibly sophisticated, like master key extrapolation.  Regardless, Ollam once again delivers a clear, concise guide to executing all of these techniques, and for countering them.

High Security Mechanical Locks by Graham Pullford.  This work is for those with a deep interest in high security locks, and is my favorite book in this category.  HSML covers high security locks in detail, and is the book that never leaves my nightstand.  I thought I knew a lot about high security, by Pulford clearly has experience and access to a broad array of high security specimens.  This text organizes locks by basic functionality, gives clear explanations of how they work, and is richly illustrated with photos.


Locks, Safes, and Security by Marc Weber Tobias, J.D. LSS is the definitive work on locks, safes, and security.  Due to cost and outline-style format of this two-volume set, LSS is not appropriate for every reader.  However, if you have an insatiable interest in the topic, this is the book for you.  Locks, Safes, and Security is a hard-bound, two-volume set that totals over 2,100 pages. The book resembles a legal textbook, which is fitting, given that Tobais is a juris doctor.   Tobias covers every aspect of security in an outline format.  Chapters are broken out about keys and keying systems, locks, methods of entry (destructive and non-), and more.  This book is a must have for any security manager.

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