Security Failure: Empty Your Drawers

empty your drawersI was visiting a dear friend recently when I happened upon a security failure.

My friend lives in an upscale, assisted living facility and recently had thousands of dollars withdrawn from her accounts via ATM.

Originally, we suspected the staff at the facility, but as I learned more about the incident, and recalled a few seemingly unrelated items I had heard about a few weeks before, I began suspecting it was a family member.

Within a week, the police identified the family member responsible, who confessed. It was sad.

However, my friend wanted a locked compartment in her apartment where she could feel it was safe from the assisted living staff (and other family members, I suppose).

So with my friend present, the maintenance man unwrapped a new locking mechanism and keys from a factory-sealed package and installed the lock on a lower kitchen cabinet.

Did any alarms go off in your head yet?

First, the cabinet was a lower kitchen cabinet. What elderly person wants to bend over and try to see where to insert a key to unlock the cabinet? That’s a user interface failure: the installer failed to take into account his audience, and the result was disastrous.

My friend, knowing that I’m a security auditor, showed me the cabinet, and asked me, “Do you think it’s secure?”

“Well,” I said, “At least the cabinet is solid oak. And the hinges are not exposed.”

“So you think it’s okay?” my friend prodded.

“Let’s see,” I said, as I pulled out the drawer above the locked door, reached in, and retrieved my friends treasured belongings.

“I never thought of that,” my friend exclaimed, as I replaced the drawer.

“Neither did your maintenance man,” I replied. “And the best part is, you would never know anything is missing until you unlocked the cabinet, several days later.”

A stealthy steal, indeed.


Check out the data center that had a similar failure



Filed under Security, Security Scout

3 responses to “Security Failure: Empty Your Drawers

  1. Holden

    Nice story. It serves as a nice metaphor for when you’re looking for similar holes in the professional environment.


  2. Holden,
    Thanks. You just can’t make this stuff up.


  3. Update….the maintenance man who installed the ‘security drawer’ was later charged with stealing toilet paper, hand tools, and power tools from his employer…..makes me wonder if this drawer was to help him easily steal my friend’s ‘locked’ valuables.


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