Security tips 101 | Expert tips on keeping your master-keyed system secure

Posted on: 3 August 2016

Master keying offers you the ability to use one key to open a wide array of locks. In your workplace, for instance, you may be issued just one key for your office that will also unlock the bathroom inside. Another example is a cleaner in a school having one key that could unlock all rooms for cleaning. Despite their convenience, master keyed systems may present a serious security risk, since one key may allow access to many other locks if it's copied or stolen. So if you've got such a system, here are some tips to boost your system's security and still enjoy its many benefits.

Use a high-quality lock design.

With insecure and poor quality design, it is possible for someone with access to just one key in the system to create a master key that opens every lock in the entire system. What's worse is that it can be done easily with very little technical skill. All one needs is a few 'blank' keys and a metal file. But don't fret; you can easily guard yourself against this by outfitting your system with a secure lock design that is invulnerable to this kind of threat. These locks may employ multiple cylinders or have electronic controls. Electronic controls use magnetic swipe cards, so there won't be any keys to copy. There are also rekeyable locks that enable you to easily reset every lock in the system if your security is compromised.

Narrow down the scope of the master keys.

When creating the plan for your system, keep in mind that the larger number of locks a single key opens, the larger the security risk it poses. Try designing different lock subsystems operating under different master keys. For example, have a master key opening every lock on each floor instead of every lock in the building. This will go a long way in mitigating the threat. Additionally, measures to resolve the situation will be much simpler. In this case, instead of rekeying the locks in the whole building, you'll only have to deal with those on one floor.  

Regulate all the keys in the system effectively.

You should always take issuing of keys very seriously, particularly those with a wider scope of access. Always know who holds respective keys so that you are able to take necessary measures when the key in question is lost or stolen. A great idea in a business set up is using a restricted master key system. This is where only those in the organisation that are registered with the supplier are able to obtain keys. This may ensure that the supply of keys available is tightly regulated, thereby enhancing the whole system's integrity.