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"Wizards have banks?"

"Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins."

Harry dropped the bit of sausage he was holding.

"Goblins?"

"Yeah -- so yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it, I'll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe -- 'cept maybe Hogwarts. As a matter o' fact, I gotta visit Gringotts anyway. Fer Dumbledore. Hogwarts business." Hagrid drew himself up proudly. "He usually gets me ter do important stuff fer him. Fetchin' you gettin' things from Gringotts -- knows he can trust me, see.

"Got everythin'? Come on, then."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Pg 48 (emphasis mine)

And then...

“I need to break into a Gringotts vault.”

Harry had not meant to say it so badly...

“Harry—” said Hermione, but she was cut off by Griphook.

“Break into a Gringotts vault?” repeated the goblin, wincing a little as he shifted his position upon the bed. “It is impossible.

“No, it isn’t,” Ron contradicted him. “It’s been done.”

“Yeah,” said Harry. “The same day I first met you, Griphook. My birthday, seven years ago.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pg 410 (emphasis mine)

And then......

“Never mind that stuff ... Is it true? Did you break into Gringotts? Did you escape on a dragon? It’s everywhere, everyone’s talking about it, Terry Boot got beaten up by Carrow for yelling about it in the Great Hall at dinner!”

“Yeah, it’s true,” said Harry.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pg 480 (emphasis mine)

If Harry, Ron, and Hermione were able to completely tamper the security of a super massively big bank holding billions of galleons, and other precious things, how could it be considered secure?

There could be many many such people, such attackers!

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It looks to me that Death Eaters could always loot the bank. –  Sachin Shekhar Jul 15 at 13:14
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Simply put, it was an inside job. Without Griphook, they'd have been sunk, and ancient goblin swords don't turn up all that often for you to bribe Gringotts staff with. –  anaximander Jul 15 at 13:51
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@anaximander: Strange women, er goblins, lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, er physical security. :) –  Codes with Hammer Jul 16 at 14:37
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@anaximander even without Griphook, they could simply have used the Imperius Curse on another goblin, who would then get them through all the defenses. Unforgivable Curses are unforgivable, but they're not hard. Then they could have just packed a few brooms to get away on. Basically, by combining pieces of magic that are somewhat scarce but by no means impossible to acquire, anyone can break into and get out of Gringotts. Gringotts security really is pitiful. –  kitkat Jul 17 at 3:34
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@AwalGarg yeah I know what you mean. Magical security in general is incredibly poor. Anyone can fake an owl's origin to lure Dumbledore out of Hogwarts (book 1). Use public keys for God's sake. Locks are basically useless, openable by first-year spells and pocket knives. Anyone determined enough can become invisible. Unforgivable curses are impossible to track and their prohibition impossible to enforce. Anyone can put Taboos on any word. Basically the wizarding world operates on the honor code and the only way to prevent an adult performing a spell is to make it really hard. Sigh. –  kitkat Jul 17 at 3:49

2 Answers 2

up vote 43 down vote accepted

Griphook states that Quirrell succeeded because the vault had been emptied, and therefore the protections around the vault weren't at full capacity; it makes sense not to waste too many resources protecting an empty vault.

“The vault in question was empty at the time,” snapped the goblin, and Harry understood that even though Griphook had left Gringotts, he was offended at the idea of its defenses being breached. “Its protection was minimal.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 - The Wandmaker

There's really very little known about how he got in and back out again, but we'll give Griphook the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was possible only because the vault was empty.

In the case of Harry, Ron and Hermione, they had the assistance of a Gringotts goblin. Griphook reacted angrily when Ron suggested he steal from the Lestrange's vault as payment, so I think it would be almost impossible for any other wizard to convince a goblin to help them; they'd have nothing to offer, and the goblin wouldn't believe - as Griphook did in Harry's case - that they weren't doing it purely for their own personal gain.

“Thief, you have been warned, beware — yeah, I know, I remember,” said Harry. “But I’m not trying to get myself any treasure, I’m not trying to take anything for personal gain. Can you believe that?”

The goblin looked slantwise at Harry, and the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead prickled, but he ignored it, refusing to acknowledge its pain or its invitation.

“If there was a wizard of whom I would believe that they did not seek personal gain,” said Griphook finally, “it would be you, Harry Potter. Goblins and elves are not used to the protection or the respect that you have shown this night. Not from wand-carriers.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 - The Wandmaker

On top of Griphook's assistance, they had Polyjuice potion to transform into the owner of the vault, Bellatrix Lestrange, and also had identification to prove Bellatrix's identity in the form of her (old) wand, taken from her before escaping from Malfoy Manor.

Even with all of those advantages, they were forced to resort to use of an Unforgivable Curse to get to the vault, and then needed a dragon to escape after retrieving Hufflepuff's Cup from inside.

It was, quite simply, the most astounding set of circumstances that allowed them to succeed.

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"Griphook states that Quirrell succeeded because the vault had been emptied ..." Do you have a quote on that? That's not quite how I remember it. –  BoBTFish Jul 15 at 15:00
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@BoBTFish Yes, added a couple of quotes to my answer. The first quote in my answer is literally the next line after the second quote in the question. –  Anthony Grist Jul 15 at 15:11
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Perfect, thank you. –  BoBTFish Jul 15 at 15:13
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If Quirrell's attempt succeeded only because the vault was empty, this seems to imply he would have failed if it had not been, hence eliminating the need to empty it in the first place. –  Michael Jul 15 at 21:00

As you have stated above, Harry took the help of Griphook who is a Goblin himself, to break into the bank. Gringotts is said to be the safest as it might be impossible to break in by a wizard alone, without inside help.

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yes, but getting a Goblin, that ain't difficult, is it? There are so many goblins, anyone can help anyone. –  Awal Garg Jul 15 at 12:04
    
How can Goblins even stand in front of gang of bad powerful wizards? –  Sachin Shekhar Jul 15 at 13:18
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@SachinShekhar: Total guesswork, but house elves are exempt from some of the rules regarding magic, perhaps goblins are too? It may not be a case of needing raw strength so much as building your security around an exclusive racial bonus. –  Phoshi Jul 15 at 13:43
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@SachinShekhar I'm sure Professor Binns would be more than happy to explain that in excruciating detail. Most of Harry's History of Magic lessons seemed to be about the Goblin Wars and rebellions. –  Anthony Grist Jul 15 at 13:56

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