Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2007.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Bypassing Northwestern security

Posted 6 June 2007 in firedoor, northwestern-university, and security

About two weeks ago I was preparing a group performance at the library, and as my team and I were exiting, one of us set off the security alarms at the exit. We all stopped in our tracks and waited for one of the two security monitors to say something. They didn't.

It turns out that both of them were listening to their iPods, which prevented them from hearing the alarms. Further, they had their heads buried in their laptops and books, so they didn't see us carrying the library computers that we could have been stealing.

Then, earlier this week I received an email informing me that the Foster House firedoor was going to be unlocked between the hours of 8a and 8p in order to help people as they move out. I discovered, however, that Northwestern foolishly only allows people to exit the building. The door remains completely locked from the outside. Thus, you can exit without setting off alarms, but you can't get back in!

At lunch today I predicted that people would prop the door open in order to circumvent the one-way lock. Within two hours I found that this is indeed what people are doing. Worse, they're propping open the doors on whatever floor they live on. Would-be intruders now have no barriers to stop them.

The take-home message is that iPods, rocks, and trashcans are all it takes to defeat Northwestern University security. Yatta!