Effective key management has multiple applications for all kinds of users. Loss of material and intellectual property can be devastating and there is always a new threat to manage. The effects of loss can be more than just financial – treasured possessions and archives can be lost forever. It is never too early to start developing a habit of security, from teaching youngsters to lock their bicycles, and limiting access to our property and assets.
Secure key management will help to deprive unauthorised parties from accessing your property, and ensure that keys remain in your possession. One of the major worries for organisations is that their key access becomes compromised, and keys may be copied. Traditionally, the response to this was to change all of the locks affected by the missing key – no easy task in a barracks or prison, which may have hundreds of associated locks. This led to unnecessary expense and delay as the locks were replaced.
Old-fashioned key management systems largely consisted of hooks to hang keys on, labels and a ledger to fill in the user’s name, time of entry and time of exit. With no secure way of controlling the circulation of keys within the building, the system was vulnerable to exploitation. During its absence a key could be substituted or copied, and record-keeping was largely a matter of guesswork. It was during one such prolonged absence in Lincoln Prison that Eamonn de Valera, former President of Ireland, was able to copy a key using a block of wax.
With modern developments such as ID cards and fingerprint readers, there has been a revolution in the way that access is managed, and key access can now be tracked from a centralised, lockable cabinet. Keys are fitted with an indestructible metal tag, which locks into a series of recesses in a cabinet, which can themselves only be unlocked by an authorised person. The time of access is recorded, as is the identity of the person removing the key, and the time of its return to the cabinet. Linking in with management software means that multiple cabinets can be controlled by computer.
For commercial environments where personnel circulate frequently throughout the facility, and where goods are moving in and out around the clock, it is essential to monitor access and prevent losses due to theft and fraud. Secure keys for offices can prevent industrial espionage, and the physical loss of assets such as laptop computers and sensitive documents. In sensitive facilities such as hospitals, prisons and military bases, the system can prevent access to unauthorised areas. An audit can summarise who opened a particular door at a particular time, and printed records can be used to identify procedural lapses. Alarms can be linked to the key fob to remind staff to hand their keys in at the end of their shift.
This article was written on behalf of Traka, leaders in sophisticated Electronic Key Management systems. Visit their site for more information on access control and asset management.