Key Control and High Security Lock Mechanisms

High security is a broad term, while key control is a level of security.


High security is a broad term. In our daily interaction with customers, we work with various types of security on various levels. Key control is a level of security. Keys are designed to protect people and property. Keys get the authorized people in and keep others out. When people lose their...


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High security is a broad term. In our daily interaction with customers, we work with various types of security on various levels. Key control is a level of security.

Keys are designed to protect people and property. Keys get the authorized people in and keep others out. When people lose their keys, they panic! To play it safe, they get extra keys made. When we want someone else to get into a protected area, we give him or her one of the extra keys. This article will examine how the different levels of key control interact with the various levels of security.

Duplicate keys can be a benefit or a detriment to security. The problem comes when someone gets an unauthorized copy of the keys. If your customer ‘loans’ someone his or her keys or leaves them with a service person, how do they know they haven’t had unauthorized extra copies made?

By making copies without the owner’s knowledge, anyone can gain access to a home, business or vehicle at any time. This can result in burglary, theft, damage or personal injury. The solution is key control.

HIGH SECURITY AND KEY CONTROL

Key control is an important part of the overall security of a customer. Various levels of key control are available. High security locks are also a great way to increase the level of your customer’s security. A lock and key system can offer high security only, key control only or both. The issuance and duplication of keys must be considered when security is lacking, not just the pick and drill resistance of high security.

UL437 LISTING

The primary function of the UL437 standard is to certify that a cylinder is both pick resistant and drill resistant. UL437 Listed cylinders have a series of hardened steel drill pins or discs added to pick resistant cylinders. Pick resistance is provided by a second or third level of protection provided by sidebars, check pins, finger pins, rotating tumblers, etc.

CONTROLLING KEYS

Key control may be accomplished on various levels. Different manufacturers offer a number of options. Duplication authorization can range from completely in the local locksmith’s control to completely in the customer’s control. Most locksmiths offer their customers a range of choices from different manufacturers.

The level of restriction may be controlled in a number of fashions. In the open level, any locksmith customer of a distributor is able to purchase lock cylinders, products and key blanks. This product is not available to the general public. Keys cannot be cut at big box stores and hardware stores.

In a slightly higher level, a contract signed by the locksmith assures the distributor that he will only copy keys generated by his company for his customers. Other locksmiths may also sell the same product, but they also agree to only generate or copy keys that they have initiated.

Some product is exclusive to the distributor. If a locksmith purchases a keyway from Distributor A, he must return there for that product. Distributor B has similar product but in a varying key section or side milling.

Other levels of restriction require a signature to match one on file. These cards are updated with key issue numbers, dates, and authorization information as each new key is issued.

Higher levels of key control allow the customer to use any locksmith to supply the product by issuing them a letter of authorization to purchase that product from the manufacturer. Other keys are available only from the manufacturer; duplication is prohibited by any other source.

LOW SECURITY – DO NOT DUPLICATE

Many keys are marked “Do Not Duplicate” in an effort to keep them from being copied without permission of the owner. This is the lowest level of key control.

For many years, this was the best way to address the issue. Most professional locksmiths would honor the intention. Today, keys are duplicated at the big box stores, auto supply stores, hardware stores and coffee shops as well as locksmith and security centers. Most places ignore the stamp. Even keys marked “Unlawful to Copy” aren’t safe.

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