Wednesday 02 November 2011

Security Incomplex

I made what I can only describe as an insignificant discovery recently. We have a security gate on the apartment complex. It has a car gate, that you either open with a beeper or a code, and a person gate that you open with a code. It’s a 4-digit code, I remember it because it is a memorable sporting number with another number on the end so #### (For the sake of my own safety I cannot make the code public so I shall replace the numbers with hash marks). The other day, by accident, I inputted the numbers in the incorrect order, ####, but the gate still opened. Maybe I did put them in in the correct order, I thought, so tried #### again: the gate opened. I have since tried ####, #### and #### and they have all worked..I was gobsmacked, having thought I lived in safety.

If someone had tried to guess a 4-digit code then the odds are 9,999 to 1. If they were stood there trying the gate ten thousand times surely someone would become suspicious – or more likely just let them in without question. However, now the realisation that the 4 digits can be inputted in any order means that it is..tries to do some pretty simple math, struggles..wonders how he got an A*, shudders at it being 17 years ago… a hundred-and-twenty times more likely than someone getting the 4 digits in a specific order. Wait let me do the math again..maybe it is only 30 times more likely.

Wait…wait it’s obvious now, because I’ve googled it: There are 24 possible permutations of 4-non-repeating specifig digits. So someone guessing them all in order would have a chance of 1 in 9999 of getting it right whereas to get them in any order would be 24 in 9,9999 – lets call it 1 in 400.

Anyway, you can understand the implications that ran through my mind – I have since registered for a gun license and intend to sleep in a tent yards from the gate checking there isn’t an international group of thieves working out the combination.

I do wonder how much cheaper a lock is this one-twenty-fourth as impenetrable – than the ‘not very impenetrable 4 digits in specific order’ option (for the people who built the apartments). To be fair when we signed the rental agreement there was no mention of a guaranteed 4-non-repeating digits so I really shouldn’t grumble.

The (not really) irony? The apartments are built on the ground that used to be a police station!! You couldn’t write that. It has made me think quite a few people have died on this ground though…I am not saying that hundreds of innocent men have been beaten to a bloody pulp by angry police who would later forge statements suggesting the death was caused by a nasty fall or violent reaction a nut allergy, that is for other people to say. I am just saying that a lot more people probably die in police stations than other municipal buildings – save for hospitals.

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