Key control, or more accurately the lack of adequate key control is one of the biggest risks most businesses are exposed to.
Key control is more than just accounting for who has what key and if you got it back when that person left your employment. Consider the following.
- Are you certain that they did not have a duplicate made?
- What if they let other people have access to their key ring and/or maybe loaned them their car?
- Maybe they typically leave their key ring where they park their car.
There are many ways to protect the integrity of your keys and key system, some are marginally effective and others are very adequate. Whatever method or type of system you choose you should know what risks are involved.
Let’s compare key control to a ladder. The higher up you go the more secure your key control system is.
- On the first rung you have the keys that were supplied to you by the building owner or builder. If you are not guaranteed otherwise, you should always assume that someone else may have a key. The bare minimum you should do is have the locks re-keyed, ask us how secure your particular keys are, if they are the typical storefront key and if the blanks are likely available at more locations than you can count. The risk of unauthorized duplication is very high, even if your keys are marked “Do Not Duplicate”, and you will never be sure how many copies of your key may be floating around.
- The next rung, you could ask us to supply you with a generic key blank. This is a commonly available key with an uncommon or different head shape than typically found on that keyway. May be available at other key duplication places than a locksmith, but may by harder for a novice to identify. Still susceptible to unauthorized duplication.
- Up we go. This time we could supply a factory restricted key. Most major lock manufacturers have a series of “restricted” keyways. They are usually restricted by the millings on the key, that in turn will match special broaching in the lock cylinder. They could also be restricted by geography, only available in a particular area, or by distribution. Some manufacturers may require that the end user be registered as an authorized user. These keys are usually available at most locksmith shops, and sometimes other keys can be re-milled to fit. Still susceptible to unauthorized duplication.
- The next rung brings us to restricted keys supplied by our distributors. They less widely available than factory restricted keyways, but still only exclusive to where the distributor sells them. Keys are still susceptible to unauthorized duplication.
- At the next level, we would recommend high security factory controlled key programs that are restricted to our use by contract. With this kind of key control, only specifically authorized people have access to obtaining duplicate keys and then only from specifically authorized professional locksmith dealers. In some instances we would be the only source. In some cases duplicate keys can only be duplicated at the factory. These key systems are typically protected by patents and contracts. The keys and cylinders employ technology that protects against lock picking, lock bumping, drilling and other by-pass methods. With the large number of available combinations very elaborate and secure master key systems are possible.
The above covers the options for mechanical key systems. If you are interested in higher levels of security and access control and/or systems that eliminate keys altogether, systems that could allow you, or other authorized persons to make system changes via computer or even smart phone, from anywhere you have Internet access, contact us, we are the experts.
Check with MHBrown & Company for which High Security Key and Lock Systems we are contracted with.
Links to popular key control systems
- Seven Ways to Slim Down Your Bulky Keychain [Keys] (lifehacker.com)
- 6 Security Policies You Need (deftconsultants.wordpress.com)