Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Don't Get Caught in the Dark During a Power Outage

Stormy skies
Rolling blackouts or brownouts, nearby thunderstorms, transformer failures — there are a number of things that can cause power outages, and most of them are fairly unpredictable. That's why it's important to always be prepared for an interruption of power when it comes to your electronic key control system.

Here are some tips that can help you continue serving your customers even when you're suddenly in the dark.

Use a Manual Override Key

If your machine has a manual override key, it's important to know exactly who has it and where it's kept. In the event of a power outage, the override key should be the only way to access the drawers, preventing thieves from trying to take advantage of your bad situation.

Designate one person as the administrator of the machine who is the keeper of the manual override key. An override key should be stored securely away from the machine but somewhere it can be accessed by the administrator or a manager quickly during an outage. If the administrator leaves the company, make sure you know where the key is and assign it to a new administrator or manager.

Run Inventory Reports

The physical key tags in your electronic key control system shouldn't be labeled. This keeps keys anonymous, so if they are ever lost or misplaced, they can't easily be linked to a specific vehicle. However this also prevents you from matching keys with cars during an outage, which is why it's important to run regular inventory reports.

Inventory reports should provide a list of the keys that are in the drawer along with the keytag ID associated with each one. Having a recent report available is crucial to your dealership's ability to manually track keys during an outage. Due to the descriptive information, an inventory report should be kept with the administrator or manager at all times.

Use an Uninterruptible Power Supply

A backup of the system should be done at least once a day. That's why it's important to connect your system to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which will provide emergency power for a short duration in the event of a primary power source failure.

A UPS should provide power to the system long enough that you can run a manual backup and get an updated inventory report immediately after an outage. Running the backup after an outage should be the system administrator's responsibility, and a line of succession should be designated in the event that the administrator isn't available.

To make sure you don't lose any data during a power outage, we've come up with a few tips.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Five Cars Stolen From Mercedes Dealership

Line of cars
Window-mounted lock boxes did little to stop thieves from stealing $200,000 worth of new cars from a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Fairfield, CT over a five-day span in July.

From July 16-21, the thieves apparently accessed the lock boxes — which were attached to a window to store the vehicles' keys — to steal the keys to five vehicles and then drove the five cars off the lot. The dealership wasn't aware that the cars had been stolen until they were discovered abandoned around Yonkers and Bronx, NY.

If your existing key control practice isn't enough to stop a thief, consider using an electronic key control system that stores keys in tamper-proof cabinets or drawers. Only approved users should be granted access to your key control system by inputting a computer password and/or scanning a fingerprint.

If a key goes missing or isn't returned to the drawer within a specific time frame, how will you know? Manual key control processes can't enforce time limits or accountability, so there is no way to immediately know if a key is missing, An electronic key control system sounds an audible alarm and can send a text message or email notification, allowing you to react quickly to a potential theft.

The Mercedes-Benz store wasn't the only dealership this summer to learn that its existing key control practice wasn't enough to stop a thief. To learn more, read our post "Thief Steals Vehicle at BMW Dealership."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why You Should Use Fingerprint Scanners With Your Key Control System

From your cell phone to your child’s lunch line, fingerprint scanners are becoming a popular addition to personal devices and payment technologies. Fingerprint readers allow users to perform functions at the touch of a finger while providing many security benefits as well.

Just as biometric fingerprint technology helps users keep their phone data safe and perform payment transactions quickly, using a fingerprint scanner as part of a key control system can help improve key checkout processes and protect keys. Here are three reasons why.

fingerprint reader
They Improve Security

If you implement a key control system with a fingerprint scanner, you can limit the number of users who have access to keys. System administrators must authorize the addition of a new user, and each time the user logs in with a fingerprint, the system is able to verify the person’s identity, offering greater key security.

They Are Low Maintenance

Research proves that fingerprint accuracy remains persistent over time, unlike other authentication methods. When using passwords, for example, users have to meet complexity requirements and regularly change their passwords. With access cards, managers have to enforce security guidelines like preventing card sharing and retrieving cards from terminated employees.

Fingerprints don’t have to be updated, and because logging in with a fingerprint is time-efficient, users are less likely to try to bypass the login requirements.You might still choose to use passwords and access cards in combination with fingerprints, but having one low-maintenance access method still streamlines the login process and improves security.

They Are Unique

Fingerprints are like snowflakes; there are no two alike. Because they vary from person to person (even identical twins), companies and agencies worldwide use biometric fingerprint technology to identify wrongdoers and improve security. This capability is ideal for businesses using key control systems as well. It is significantly more difficult to forge a fingerprint than it is to hack a password or steal an access card, so you can know exactly who has a key and when it was taken.

To see how one business uses fingerprints to improve key security, check out this post.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thief Steals Master Key From Retirement Home

Burglar entering homeAn 82-year-old widow living in a retirement home in Burnsville, MN noticed one of her rings lying on the floor of her living room one day. Realizing that something was wrong, she hurried to her jewelry box and discovered that her engagement ring and wedding band from her late husband were nowhere to be found.

A thief had stolen the retirement home’s master key and broken into a tenant's apartment unit, stealing $20,000 worth of jewelry. She was devastated and heartbroken knowing that someone had invaded her home and stolen irreplaceable mementos.

An electronic key control system could have prevented the thief from stealing the master key and also would have given the residents peace of mind and security. By automating the key tracking process, you can require a password, fingerprint and/or key fob in order for employees to gain access to a key.

Not only would this feature prevent keys from getting into the wrong hands, but it would also keep an up-to-date verifiable record of everyone who had checked out a key. If authorized users are aware that their key activity is being traced, they are less likely to access and use keys for malicious reasons.

In addition to giving your residents peace of mind and securing your facility, electronic key control has many other benefits, which you can read about here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thief Steals Vehicle at BMW Dealership

car thiefThe managers of a San Francisco BMW dealership walked in to a rude awakening when they found shattered glass windows and a vehicle missing from their showroom one Monday morning.

During the night, a burglar had broken into the dealership and proceeded to gain access to a locked box where the vehicle key inventory was stored. The suspect then stole a BMW and drove it through the window of the dealership onto the street, where he crashed into a parked car. Among many others, the suspect was charged with auto theft and possession of a vehicle master key.

Keep your keys from falling into the wrong hands by implementing an electronic key management system. Using an electronic process rather than a manual process allows you to set up alerts to maintain accountability over your inventory. These alerts — which can be emailed or text messaged — will also notify you when keys have been taken by an unauthorized user or haven’t been returned within a specified time frame.

By knowing where your keys are at all times, you can reduce liabilities and keep your business safe.

To learn more about keeping your keys secure, read our post, “Businesses’ Keys Stolen by Unexpected Thief."

Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Catch Fishy Miles on Your Fleet Vehicles

Fishing boat
Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day. Give a man a company car and he'll rack up extra miles on the way to a weekend deep sea fishing trip.

Fishy miles — or rather mystery miles — can be a major headache for companies with vehicle fleets. While employees' reasons for unauthorized use of company vehicles usually aren't as extravagant as weekend fishing trips in search of Jaws, the extra miles employees put on poorly managed fleet vehicles can result in increased operating costs and decreased vehicle life spans.

In honor of Shark Week coming to a close, here are some ways you can reel in would-be adventurers and keep fishy miles on your fleet vehicles from reaching oceanic proportions.

Limit Key Access

Keeping track of your fleet vehicles should start with knowing who has keys and when they have them. An electronic key control system should not only store keys in a secure drawer or cabinet but also offer multiple access levels to limit who can take what keys. It should also require employees to log in, scan a fingerprint or swipe a card to gain access to keys.

Receive Reports on Key Activity

In the same way correctly reporting miles is crucial to effective fleet management, getting reports on key activity is an important aspect of managing your fleet's keys. An electronic key control system should keep automatic records of when a key was checked out, who took it and how many miles a vehicle had at checkout and check-in. This sort of reporting provides an audit trail that protects your organization from liability.

Use System Alerts for Added Security

You need to know immediately if an employee tries to take a fleet car without proper authorization. When the employee attempts to access the system or a specific key, an electronic key control system should alert you by sounding an audible alarm and/or sending you a text or email. Alerts allow you to react quickly and keep the fleet under control.

Not convinced that your employees might misuse company vehicles? Read our post "What an Unconventional Bank Robber Can Teach Us About Fleet Management."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Secure Your Keys During Fourth of July Festivities

Fourth of July weekend is the perfect time for friends and family to come together and celebrate the red, white and blue. And with the holiday happening right after the summer solstice, the Fourth of July is the perfect mark to start the summer season — one of the most vulnerable seasons for businesses. During the summer, there’s an average crime increase of more than 20 percent around the nation.

To make sure mishandled or misplaced keys don’t play a role in security or safety breaches while you’re enjoying a backyard barbecue or fireworks show, follow these tips.

FireworksHave Employees Return Checked-out Keys They Don’t Need

If using an electronic key control system, run a report to see what keys are checked out, who checked them out and when employees who have keys checked out that they should return keys to the key system by a specified time. No summer employees or temp workers should have keys checked out over the holiday while the business is closed.

Remind Employees of Key Use Protocol 

If any employees need to use company keys over the break (a long-term issue office key or the key to a company vehicle, for example), remind them to never leave the keys unattended during Fourth of July celebrations. One misplaced or stolen key could lead to expensive re-keying costs or stolen assets.

In addition, if an employee will have a company vehicle over the holiday, reiterate that they should not operate the vehicle while under the influence. Instead, they should use a designated driver and arrange to use an alternate vehicle if the driver is not authorized to drive the company car. Encourage them to exercise caution around other drivers as well. With an average of 542 fatalities per year, 45 percent of which involve alcohol, Independence Day is the third most deadly holiday for drivers, following Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Enable System Alerts 

Enabling system alerts can provide managers with peace of mind while they’re participating in Fourth of July festivities. Audible system alarms can help deter a person from attempting to access a key they’re not authorized to have, and text alerts can immediately notify managers that there’s been a system security breach.

How are you keeping your keys safe this Fourth of July? Let us know in the comments!