Upgrading Security With SmartKey Proprietary Electronic Keyways

July 2, 2012
SmartKeyTM Conversion Shells enable greater flexibility in the design of an access control systems by using combinations of patented keyways along with authorization and multiple factor authentication

All locksmiths recognize the value of a proprietary mechanical keyway. Proprietary keyways provide enhanced security for our customers by preventing unauthorized copies of keys from being cut. They can also prevent competitors from taking over our accounts.

SmartKey™ is a new product which allows conventional mechanical keys to be upgraded to state-of-the-art electronic access control credentials for use with HID 13.56MHz iClass readers, or with HID 125KHz and compatible proximity readers such as CanProx One from Cansec Systems Ltd.

Types of Key Systems:

  • Proprietary Key System is a distributor (or distributor network) wide keyway that only one distributor (or distributor network) can sell. This keyway can also be known as the “National Keyway.”
  • Patented Key System offers legally enforceable protection from “Look Alike” key blanks being manufactured and sold into the market. Patents eventually expire and therefore are no longer protected by the patent.
  • Network Security Key involves a password that can help protect wireless networks from unauthorized access. A network security key encrypts information sent form one network computer to another so that the information can only be read by someone who has the key
  • Non-Patented Key System has usually been manufactured for many years and offers no protection from key duplication. 
  • Registered Key System offers no real or enforceable protection from key duplication.  Many aftermarket key blank companies manufacturer “Look Alike” registered blanks.
  • Restricted Keyways are keyways and corresponding key blanks whose sale is limited by manufacturer but which offer no protection against unauthorized duplication.

The SmartKey™ system combines the elements of both mechanical key systems and network security to the electronic access control industry by embedding a Proprietary Electronic Keyway (PEK) Code in both the SmartKey™ readers and the SmartKey™ Conversion Shells.

When a key is presented to a reader, the reader first checks to see if the PEK code in the key matches the code in the reader.  If it does not, the key is simply ignored.  If it does, the encoded ID data is transmitted to the access control panel exactly as it would be with a regular prox credential and Wiegand-compatible reader.

A SmartKeyTM  conversion product creates an electronic access control credential from a standard mechanical key. The upgraded SmartKey™ is used in mechanical locks just like before.  No changes to existing locks are required.

Placing a prox coil in close proximity to a metal key typically reduces the read range to the point to where the credential has to physically touch the reader. However, the SmartKeyTM retains the read range to where the SmartKeyTM can read through the user’s hand.

SmartKeyTM uses mature and ubiquitous 125KHz technology, as this frequency provides the best performance when packaged with a metal key. 125KHz is used on many prox cards and readers from numerous vendors.  HID 13.56MHz iClass readers, HID 125KHz and CanProx One from Cansec Systems Ltd. are designed to work with virtually any industry standard access control system, making it easy to upgrade.

SmartKeyTM Conversion Shells contain an embedded pre-encoded prox coil. When fitted over the bow of the key, the key is transformed into a dual technology access control credential. The key continues to work as a mechanical key but also is now a proximity credential as well.

SmartKeyTM Conversion Shells are currently available for Best, Schlage C/Primus, Schlage Everest and Jet Big Bow (which is available in several keyway profiles).

The conversion shell technology incorporates a design which positions the embedded transponder sufficiently away from the key’s metal bow, thereby reducing range attenuation. Additionally the SmartKeyTM Conversion Shell transponder has a specially designed coil which boosts the credential’s range.

Multiple Factor Authentication

A key component is the use of patented keyways along with authorization and multiple factor authentication.

Authorization is the function of specifying access rights to resources, for example an authorized key for a door lock.

For high security scenarios, multiple authentication factors are desirable and may be required. Traditional single factor authentication was based on something the user had, which could be an authorized (working) key or credential. A second factor might be something the user knows, which might be a PIN (Personal Identification Number). A third authentication factor could be something the user is, in other words, a biometric characteristic such as a fingerprint.

By custom configuring electric keyswitches, PIN keypads, biometric terminals and credential readers, multiple authentication is possible.

SmartKeyTM may be adapted even further by implementing masterkeying, and sectional masterkeying.

Security may be further enhanced by combining SmartKeyTM with 125 Hz proximity technology; HID 13.56MHz iClass and HID multiCLASS readers.

A SmartKeyTM 125Hz Conversion shell will work with a standard Proximity reader as well as a HID multiCLASS reader. A SmartKeyTM  iClass Conversion shell will work with both a HID iClass reader and a HID multiCLASS reader.

So even though a A SmartKeyTM system can be deployed so that a key is used as a way to carry the SmartKeyTM module, there are many other ways where the SmartKeyTM module and the key to which it is attached can be both incorporated into the access control security management. For example a system could be devised which require the a SmartKeyTM and a valid PIN in order for the key to open the door.

A proprietary electronic Keyway Code is embedded into each SmartKeyTM reader and SmartKeyTM conversion shell. When a SmartKeyTM conversion shell is presented to a SmartKeyTM reader, it first checks for a PEK match between the credential and the reader. If there is a match, the reader transmits the encoded ID data to the access controller as it would with a standard credential and reader.

This unique capability is available to a limited number of resellers under the SmartKeyTM Registered Partner Program. When a Registered Partner signs up, that partner is issued a unique Proprietary Electronic Keyway (PEK) Code which is encoded in their SmartKeyTM Conversion Shells. This guarantees total exclusivity on a national basis. See the SmartKeyTM website, www.smartkey.ca, for details.