High Security: Mechanical To Electronic

Jan. 2, 2017
While there will always be a role for mechanical keys, today’s customers want to increase security with electronic locks.

In the world of locks, the term “High Security” has very specific meanings, and a lock has meet special criteria in order to be accurately called “High Security.”

The basic concepts were that a High Security lock was a high quality mechanical lock that resisted forced entry and used keys which were controlled and proprietary, and cylinders which were controlled and designed to be pick resistant.

The market for security has grown significantly in recent decades, and although there is still a market for top shelf keys and locks, too often, that’s where the remain, on the shelf, as alternatives to keys, electronics, come in at lower selling price points, and the economies and convenience of electronic door controls are vastly more attractive for a growing number of applications.

Key control is an issue which is difficult to circumvent when mechanical keys are distributed to a large number of individuals in an organization.

Another aspect is authentication of the keyholder. It may be possible to restrict distribution of keys to limit counterfeiting, but a lost or stolen key may not be reported of discovered right away, and if there is a unaccounted key, the expanse and logistics of dealing with it are typically expensive and logistic challenges.

Another benefit not possible with mechanical locking systems is auditing use of the doors, and remote control of the doors.

A keyless opening is 100 percent pick and bumpproof.

Ongoing concerns among locksmiths relate to the transition away from mechanical locks and keys toward electronic alternatives. Some of our readers miss the reliability of mechanical locks and keys, and mistrust the tsunamis of new technologies being brought into the market, which they must sell and service.

It is our position that the mechanical key will never go away, although the market share of non-proprietary keys system is going to decline and be replaced with different technologies. No matter what, there really isn’t a substitute for reliable mechanical locking hardware.

Here are some of the newer High Security options in the locksmith marketplace.

Allegion NDE

The Schlage® NDE Series wireless lock with ENGAGE™ technology is designed to be easy to install, connect, manage, and use. Developed specifically for facilities that want to upgrade to electronic credentials for improved security and efficiency, it is ideal for suite entrances, office doors, common area doors, and sensitive storage spaces with a cylindrical door prep.

NDE Series wireless locks simplify installation by combining the lock, credential reader, door position sensor and request-to- exit switch all in one unit. NDE Series wireless locks utilize the standard ND cylindrical door prep and can be installed in minutes with only a Phillips screwdriver; no need to install additional components, drill holes or run wires to each opening.

Built-in Bluetooth® enables NDE Series wireless locks to connect directly to smart phones and tablets; no need for a costly proprietary handheld device for set-up and configuration. And with built-in Wi-Fi, NDE Series locks can connect directly to an existing Wi-Fi network enabling automatic updates to configuration and access.

Additionally, NDE Series locks can be connected to the ENGAGE Gateway for real-time access control with software from one of our access control alliance partners.

With the ENGAGE cloud-based web and mobile apps, it’s easy to configure lock settings, add users, and view audits and alerts from anywhere. For advanced capabilities including networked real-time communication, NDE Series wireless locks can be managed with software from one of our access control alliance partners.

NDE Series wireless locks are compatible with most proximity and smart cards including aptiQ™ and aptiQmobile.™ For additional details please refer to the NDE Integrations which can be found under the Alliances menu on the Allegion website, www.allegion.us

Schlage LE Series Wireless Locks

LE Series wireless locks are compatible with most proximity and smart cards including aptiQ® and aptiQmobile™.

Features and benefits:

  • Designed to be easy to install, connect, manage, and use for perimeter and interior door applications
  • Suites with mechanical L Series with 28 levers and 2 knobs
  • MS mortise with indicator, MB mortise with push button, and MD mortise deadbolt available to configure applications for storeroom, privacy, apartment, and office
  • Lever handing is field changeable
  • Innovative integrated door position switch requires no additional door prep1
  • Built-in Bluetooth® enables wireless configuration from smart phones and tablets
  • Built-in Wi-Fi® enables automatic daily updates sent directly from host software
  • Enables networked real-time communication with the ENGAGE Gateway and software from one of our access control alliance members
  • Up to 2 years of battery life with 4 AA batteries
  • Compatible with major brands of key systems
  • ANSI/BHMA A156.25, ANSI/BHMA Grade 1, UL 294, UL10C (3-hour fire rated), FCC Part 15, ADA, RoHS
  • 1 Door position switch requires additional prep for mortise deadbolt (MD) applications

Farpointe MAXSecure

Farpointe Data offers a product that they say enables access control manufacturers and integrators can now provide their customers with a way to protect their card-based systems from skimming, eavesdropping and relay attacks.

Skimming occurs when the attacker uses an unauthorized reader to access information on the unsuspecting victim’s RFID card or tag without consent. From that point on, the attacker can control when and where unauthorized entries may occur. An eavesdropping attacker recovers the data sent during a transaction between the legitimate reader and card. In a relay attack, the invader relays communication between the reader and a tag which lets the attacker temporarily possess a ‘clone’ of a token, thereby allowing the assailant to gain the associated benefits.

For organizations worried about such invasions of their proximity or smart card systems, access control system manufacturers and leading integrators that deploy Farpointe proximity/smart cards and readers can provide increased security with their MAXSecure option.

MAXSecure provides a high-security handshake, or code, between the card, tag and reader to help prevent credential duplication and ensure that your readers will only collect data from these specially coded credentials. For those familiar with mechanical access control, it’s the electronic security equivalent of a mechanical key management system, in which a specific organization is the only one that has the individual key that they use. Such keys are only available through their integrator and their integrator never provides another company with the same key.

In the MAXSecure electronic access control scenario, no other company will have the reader/card combination that only that specific organization gets from their integrator. Only their exclusive reader will be able to read their exclusive card or tag and their reader will read no other card or tag.

MAXSecure is available now with Farpointe Pyramid proximity cards and readers and Delta smart cards and readers.

For more information, go to www.farpointedata.com

Dormakaba Group PowerPlex 2000 Series

Based on the PowerStar Technology, which has been used and manufactured for over 10 years, the PowerPlex Series utilizes new capacitor technology to store power longer and more efficiently. There is no handle pumping required to wake up the lock and the built-in super capacitors will hold a full charge for up to 10 weeks with no activity at the lock.

The lock is ideal for small to mid-sized facilities, rarely visited remote locations, retail Employees Only areas and military facilities..

Advantages include:

Electronic pushbutton lock eliminates problems and costs associated with issuing, controlling, and collecting keys and cards.

Provides exterior access by PIN code, while allowing free egress.

Self-powered, no batteries or other power sources required...

Requires no wiring to or through the door — eliminates risk of damage from pinched wires that can result in costly callbacks.

Locking Device Options:

  • Cylindrical: Cylindrical latch with 3-hour UL/ULC fire rating
  • Exit Device: Compatible with most leading brands of Exit Devices; American Standard Mortise: With 1 ¼” (32 mm) face plate; with and without deadbolt, auto dead bolt also available

Number of Codes: Multiple Users — 100 Codes

Audit Trail: The most recent 1,000 lock events are recorded in memory, including use of the mechanical key override. Software is required to view audit events.

Programming: Locks are programmed via keypad or with optional Microsoft® Excel®-based software — simplifies management of doors and users as facility’s number of users and access points grow.

Handing: Non-handed; pre-assembled for left-hand door installations — easily changed in the field.

Key Override (Optional):

Optional Key-in- Lever cylinder in Schlage “C” Keyway with black Kaba cap

Small format — Best and equivalent (6 or 7-pin length)

Operation Modes:

  • PIN access
  • Passage — can be toggled on/off Lockout
  • Lockout

Access Control Authority Levels:

Five different levels allow who has access to specific lock functions, including:

  • Master Level — performs all set-up and programming functions
  • Manager Level — administers common programming functions
  • Access User Level — entry granted with valid PIN
  • Service Level — codes for single event or single day access, programmable in advance
  • Maintenance Level — no access is granted, information can be uploaded/downloaded to/from the lock

User Parameters:

Code length — Adjustable to accept 4 to 8 digits

Anti-tamper lockout — Adjustable from 3 to 9 invalid attempts with an adjustable period of 0 to 90 seconds

Relock time — Adjustable from 2 to 20 seconds

Construction: Heavy-duty commercial Grade 1 lockset, solid cast exterior housing, solid cast levers, cylindrical drive wear tested for extensive use in indoor and outdoor applications

Numeric Keypad: Vandal resistant, solid metal pushbuttons


Cylindrical: 2 ¾”; (70 mm) backset, 2 ⅜”; (60 mm) backset

Mortise: 2 ¾”; (70 mm) backset

Exit Trim Model: Varies by exit device


Cylindrical Models: ½” (13 mm) throw latch, ¾”; (19 mm) throw latch

Mortise Models: ¾”; (19 mm) latch, 1”; (25 mm) dead bolt (optional)


Cylindrical Models: Packaged standard with both ANSI A115.3 “T”

Strike and A115.2 ASA Strike

Minimum Stile Required: 5”; (127 mm)

Key Override Options:

Key-in- Lever Cylinder: Kaba 1539 6-pin cylinder — Schlage “C” Keyway

Interchangeable Core: Small format — Best and equivalent (6 or 7-pin length); cylinder not included

Door Preparation:

Cylindrical and Exit Trim — ASA 161 (Easily installs on door preparation with three additional through bore holes (wood or metal doors)

Mortise — ASA 86 door preparation with three additional through bore holes

Door Thickness:

Cylindrical Model: 1 ⅜”; (35 mm) to 2 ½”; (64 mm); pre-assembled to accommodate doors 1 ⅝”; (41 mm) to 2”; (50 mm)

Exit Trim and Mortise Models:

1 ¾”; (44 mm) to 2 ¼”; (57 mm).

Pre-assembled to accommodate doors 1¾”; (44 mm) to 2 ⅛”; (54 mm).

Certification and Testing

Accessibility Standard: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Durability: ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 Certified (A156.25, A156.2, A156.13, A156.3)

Fire Rating: UL 10C Fire rated

Environmental: Indoor/Outdoor Approved; -31 °F (-35 °C) to + 151 °F (66 °C)

Warranty: Three-year warranty from date of installation; built-in warranty counter in lock memory

Available Finishes: Standard: Satin Chrome 26D (626) housings and levers. Optional Finish: Satin Brass 04 (606) housings and levers or Dark Bronze 744 (10B) housings and levers

Schlage® Control™ Smart Locks

The Schlage® Control™ Smart Lock series is an efficiency-boosting solution for multi-family residences.

Control Smart Locks are specifically designed to improve operational efficiency and safety within multi-family properties. The open integration capabilities in conjunction with ENGAGE™ Technology, offers flexible, streamlined control and the ability to integrate with an alliance software partner to manage a wide spectrum of facility needs.

Residents will enjoy the convenience of using a smartphone and/or smart credentials to open doors.

Combining security, efficiency and style, the no-cylinder design of the Control Smart Locks are billed as 100 percent pick and bump proof. Confirmed with BHMA Grade 2 certification, 90-minute UL fire rating and ADA compliance, these locks have the ability to withstand the excessive force of break in attempts.

ABUS Vitess™

ABUS locking systems are ideal for programs of various sizes, from small to large master key systems. The range covers keyed alike cylinders, small and medium master key systems, as well as large grand master key systems. If requested, the planning and calculation of the grand master key system can be done by ABUS Pfaffenhain™.

All cylinders of ABUS Pfaffenhain™ have a core diameter of 14mm (0.55“). This increased diameter enables a very large number of combinations inside of the cylinder, making very large and complex grand master key systems with ABUS possible. These locking systems offer 1.5 million true key differs!

Highlights of Vitess:

• Unique combination of patent protection, unlimited trademark protection and highest technical key copy protection

• The curved precision profile and Intop system offer ultimate picking protection

• Curved key profile offers increased stability

Technical Details:

• Patented Intop system

• 6 locking elements

• 14mm (0.55“) core diameter


• Key-in- Lever (KIL), Key-in- Knob (KNK), RIM, Mortise, 83 Series locking insert, LFIC Schlage (phase 2)

• Key Control NA Patent 2034

• Exclusive Keyways

• Coined Keys and Blanks

• Partner Program Protection

• “All-in- one” easy assembly sets with pre-loaded top pins

• Extensive pinning kits

• Local pinning and key cutting

More Info: www. www.abus.com/usa/

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.