Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How Key Control Reduces Employee Risk in Prisons

Correctional officer holding keys
With prisons struggling with overcrowding, it may seem reasonable to hire more correctional officers to help maintain the security of your facility. However, due to the stressful and demanding nature of the position, hiring new officers may not solve your security problems. In fact, as a result of understaffing, new employees are less likely to be vetted and trained properly, which can result in human error, unsafe work conditions and even corrupt behavior.

Correctional officers are responsible for controlling facility keys, equipment and weapons, making it crucial that they be held accountable. If these items are lost, misplaced or stolen due to a negligent or stressed-out worker, it could be disastrous for your facility. Consider the case of an Australian prison that saw a prisoner steal a set of unattended keys from a staff area as he was being released. The keys were not discovered missing until the next day and required 28 locks to be changed.

One way to help reduce employee risk in your prison is by investing in a secure method for managing your keys. An electronic key control system can create an automatic record of keys checked out by employees, in addition to alerting an administrator by text message or email when keys are not returned. This promotes accountability among your employees while also keeping you informed of the status of your prison’s keys.

As prisons require a higher level of security than most organizations, limiting key access to approved users should be a priority. A key control system that provides total lockdown security can lock keys in place to prevent users from taking keys they shouldn’t. Limiting access to keys can also help cut down on employees handling more keys than necessary, which in turn can help prevent lost or stolen keys.

Are you confident your prison keys aren't being misused?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Avoid a Campus Nightmare by Taking the Right Safety Measures

Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania
Photo from The Clio
Three weeks ago at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, former student Cody Delusio used a master key to enter a sorority house, impersonating the sorority's new resident director. The students in the house immediately had suspicions of his intentions and called the campus police. As the officers were on their way, one of the sorority members added Delusio on the social media app Snapchat, which has a new feature that displays your friends' locations. Later in the evening, the police were able to track down the trespasser's location.

Fortunately, Snapchat saved the school's reputation and saved the girls from danger. But what if none of the students had thought to befriend the intruder to track his whereabouts? What if he had other sorority houses' master keys? The story could have ended very differently.

When keys end up in the wrong hands, you jeopardize not only your campus safety but also the reputation and brand image you hold. To uphold the safety and reputation of your campus, you must ensure you've taken reasonable steps to secure your campus. One way to do this is to implement an electronic key control system.

With an electronic key control system, you can:
  • Increase student and resident safety
  • Reduce liability
  • Avoid rekeying costs
  • Prevent a negative reputational image
Want to learn more about how to secure your campus? Check out this blog post.

Monday, October 2, 2017

How Electronic Key Control Helps Combat Dealerships’ Top Challenges

Car keys with money
It’s tough finding the budget to prioritize all your dealership’s challenges, from employee retention to customer satisfaction to compliance. However, even if you do invest money in one of these areas, there is a common denominator that could be worsening each of these challenges and putting your investments on the line. That denominator is key control.

Consider the role key control plays in the following three areas.

Employee Retention

For many employees — especially salespeople and service advisors — time is money. Anything that extends the sales process longer impacts their earning potential. Unfortunately, only 49 percent of business owners are taking advantage of business process automation. Dealership employees are often required to perform manual tasks such as filling out key control logs. To save time, employees tend to take a key without completing the log. If anyone else needs that key, they have to spend time searching for it.

When your employees have to cope with longer processes, they have to deal with more frustrated customers, which can increase the employee’s stress level. These factors alone are enough to cause them to look for another job. A 10-point increase in turnover will cost you around $50,000 annually.   

Electronic key control systems offer features that allow employees to do their jobs more efficiently, including CRM integration, electronic key log updates and work order tracking. These capabilities increase employees’ earning potential and reduce frustration, making them want to stick around longer.

Customer Satisfaction

When you’re constantly onboarding new associates, it’s difficult to prioritize customers. Turnover not only creates a lack of continuity for customers, it also creates a breakdown in processes. New associates are more prone to mistakes like misplacing keys or failing to update a key control log. These errors force other staff members to take longer serving customers, which makes a negative impression on the consumer — especially in the sales department. When customers are buying cars, satisfaction is at its highest within the first 90 minutes on the day of purchase. That number begins declining once time spent goes beyond the 1.5 hour mark. Every minute counts.

Incidentally, after you’ve implemented tools to make employees happier (like CRM integration, automatic key logging, work order tracking and more), they’ll be more motivated to meet customers’ needs. Your customers will also appreciate not having to wait while sales reps and service advisors track down keys.


Retaining employees and keeping customers happy is even more complicated when you throw compliance challenges into the mix. Improper key control methods and inadequate audit trails have significant compliance implications. For example, the FTC Commission’s Safeguards Rule requires you to store records containing sensitive customer information in a place where they can be locked when unattended. File cabinets, desk drawers and offices are also required to be locked securely.

Seventy-one percent of breaches at small to midsize businesses are caused by employees or on-site security weaknesses. That’s why it’s important to know who has access to areas with confidential information. If you do experience a data breach, it will cost you an average of $141 per record. On top of that, 84 percent of buyers won’t return to your dealership.

When the audit trail is consistently updated every time a key is removed or returned, you can rest assured that keys are not being misused, which helps protect your inventory and the areas where restricted information is stored. A system with security alarms helps prevent unauthorized or undetected key usage. If an alarm is triggered, you can act quickly and reduce your chances of a costly physical security breach.

These challenges don’t have to define your dealership. Fight them head on by addressing your key control first.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Do You Need to Improve Your Key Management?

Keys hanging in a box
Unsecured keys are a safety hazard to you, your employees and your customers, especially if these keys grant access to high-security areas, heavy equipment or valuable products. Poorly managed keys are easily stolen and can be used to swipe vehicles from auto dealerships, access school buildings or put apartment tenants at risk.

Organizations often fall for the false security a key pegboard in a back room or a padlocked box might provide them. These practices won't be enough to stop determined thieves, however. Keeping keys out of the wrong hands boils down to improving key management.

What Is Key Management?

If your company has a lot of keys, key management is an essential tool to help you stay organized and keep track of all of your keys. Not only does a key management system help you monitor the keys themselves, but it also helps you monitor when keys are checked out, who is checking them out and when they are returned.

Why Does Key Management Matter?

Replacing a missing key might seem like a minor expense, but even one missing key can lead to costly problems. If keys are lost, misplaced or stolen, your business could be at risk of theft of more valuable assets like vehicles or electronics.

Compare the concept of managing keys to good password security. If somebody with malicious intent guesses your simple password or finds it written on a piece of paper, they could easily have access to a large amount of personal and private data. They could use that information to buy things in your name, ruin your public image or damage your credit.

Poor password security can lead to expensive consequences. Likewise, weak key management practices can damage your organization's bottom line and reputation.

How Can You Improve Your Key Management?

Though keys are the gatekeepers to your most valuable assets, you, like many businesses, might still rely on low-security methods for keeping those keys safe. Pegboards and lockboxes with manually maintained key access logs are examples of low-security key management that can go awry, especially if you don't maintain accurate logs.

The good news is that there are several options out there that can help you keep your keys and assets secure and react quickly if a key does go missing. It's important for you to select a key management system that secures keys in tamper-proof steel drawers or secure panels and also automatically logs who took keys and when.

Automatic logs eliminate mistakes that could happen with manually maintained logs, giving you an accurate audit trail that will allow you to react quickly to a missing key and respond to potential security breaches.

Keys are an important access point for vehicles, apartments, restricted-access locations and more. By keeping your keys secure, you're helping keep all the associated access points secure as well.

What key management methods do you use? Do you have accurate logs anytime a key is missing?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Renters Want Keyless Entry, But Is It Worth the Risks?

Keypad entry
With the growing popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT), renters are looking for homes that reflect their connected lifestyle. Sixty-five percent of baby boomers and 86 percent of millennials would pay more for an apartment with intelligent upgrades such as thermostats, lighting or locks. In fact, the majority of millennial renters (61 percent) look specifically for apartments with electronic access features, believing these capabilities increase security.

With these figures in mind, you might be considering making the jump from traditional locks to smart locks at your property. Before implementing a keyless entry system, however, it is important to weigh the risks against the benefits.

Keyless Entry Systems Are Easy to Hack

Like other IoT devices, smart locks are typically powered by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Z-Wave connectivity, making them vulnerable to hackers. According to Berkeley researchers, “Flaws in the design, implementation, and interaction models of existing locks can be exploited by several classes of adversaries, allowing them to learn private information about users and gain unauthorized home access.”

Security researchers at the Def Con conference also pointed out that some locks can even be hacked by someone with minimal tech skills.

If a tenant uses their smartphone to control a smart lock, their safety could be at stake if their phone ends up in the wrong hands. Nearly 30 percent of people use no screen lock on their phones, so a criminal could easily access personal data stored on the device to determine where the phone’s owner lives and then gain access to their unit with the click of a button. Not only does this vulnerability put your tenant at risk, but it increases your property’s liability.

Managing the System Can Be a Full-Time Job

While keyless entry systems might make renters' lives easier, that is not always the case for leasing offices. Smart locks come with the administrative burden of programming fobs, cards, access codes or biometric fingerprints.

The locks need to be reprogrammed not only when a tenant moves in or out, but also if the locks have been compromised in some way, such as by hacking or a tenant losing a fob. If your property uses a keypad system, access codes much be changed frequently regardless of whether or not a breach has been reported. This is because codes can easily be figured out. A common problem is "shoulder surfing,” a social engineering technique where someone obtains the code simply by watching the tenant enter it. Even if the tenant willingly provides the code to someone, it could be overheard or shared without their permission. Depending on the size of the property, managing access rights could be a full-time job.

Even if someone hasn’t seen or overheard the code, criminals can simply examine the keypad for wear and tear. The buttons the tenant presses on a regular basis will show signs of use and thieves can try a few different combinations to discover the right code. To prevent this issue, the codes must be changed regularly, making it harder for tenants to keep track of their codes.

Some locks allow you to use biometric thumbprints instead of codes, but this can create an administrative burden for your employees, since they will have to scan new tenants’ thumbprints and deactivate former tenants’ thumbprints.

You Do Not Eliminate the Need for Key Control

You may be under the impression that key control is no longer necessary when you implement a keyless entry system. Although there are some smart locks that eliminate the use of traditional keys, many still have key slots that allow you to use backup keys in case the smart lock malfunctions. Some users have reported that certain models of smart locks frequently crash, so having the option to use backup keys is critical. If you do use traditional keys as backups, you will need to secure and control access to those keys.

However, regardless of whether or not your system requires a backup key, you will still need a way to secure and track preprogrammed cards or fobs for every unit to grant contractors access to specific apartments. While some properties will program a card or key fob as needed for all the units a contractor needs to access to complete a particular work order, this method requires multiple staff members to have programming privileges. The result is a system with little access restriction,
which is in effect like giving these employees master keys.

As CNET says, “A smart lock doesn’t necessarily equal a safer lock.” Renters might be willing to pay more for keyless entry, but is it worth the added administrative burden, security risks and increased liability?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Missing-Key Incidents Highlight Need for Campus Security

Empty classroom Key control is an essential component of a school’s security program. When keys fall into the wrong hands, schools risk not only loss of assets but lives as well. This is clear from several missing-key incidents that have happened in recent years:

  • In Massachusetts, police were investigating a bomb threat at Newburyport High School when they discovered that a 16-year-old (who was not connected to the threat) was carrying a school master key and butterfly knife.
  • A missing set of master keys forced an entire school district in Oregon to rekey 16 schools, costing approximately $50,000.
  • At the University of Central Arkansas, the chief of staff lent his grand master key to a student, who used the key to enter an assistant director’s office and steal exam answers.

When it comes to school security, electronic key control provides two key benefits: restricting access to keys and automatically documenting an audit trail of key usage. To reduce the risk of incidents such as these, follow these four key control tips on your campus.

Store Keys Securely

Office drawers, pegboards and unmonitored lockboxes are all methods for storing your school’s keys. The problem with those methods is that keys could be easily stolen by anyone who gains access to the area in which they are contained. Storing keys in a tamper-proof electronic key management system will greatly reduce the chance for key theft and enhance the overall security of your keys.

Establish Access Levels for Users

Establishing access levels ensures that users can only take keys that are essential to their job functions. Enforce access levels by implementing an electronic key security system that requires users to enter a unique password or scan their fingerprint to retrieve keys. This nonreplicable access information ensures that only authorized users can check out certain keys.

Keep an Accurate Log

One of the pitfalls of using a pegboard or lockbox is that if employees don’t sign out or sign in the keys they use, locating unaccounted-for keys and updating the log becomes an administrative headache and, even worse, a liability for the campus. An electronic key control system provides an automatic verifiable audit trail of key activity so logs are always accurate.

Set up Alerts

With manual key control processes, there’s no way to know if a key hasn’t been returned, or if an unauthorized user attempts to access a key. Text message and email alerts can immediately notify system administrators when keys have not been returned or a user attempts to take a key to which they don’t have access.

By managing keys with an electronic key control system that controls user access, your school can cut down on incidents in which keys are either lost or end up in the hands of unauthorized individuals. If an incident does occur, the audit trail created by an electronic key control system can help police and school officials quickly identify who last checked out a specific key or set of keys.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Could Your Dealership Be on the Hook for Teen Crime?

Teen Driving Speeding Car Through Tunnel
Temple University psychology professor Laurence Steinberg compared the teenage brain to a vehicle with a good accelerator but a weak brake — a combination that is bound to lead to a crash. Steinberg meant the comparison figuratively, but a rash of juveniles stealing vehicles from dealerships made the metaphor seem like a prediction. Most of the thefts involved high-speed joyrides resulting in crashes, some of which led to fatalities.

Where Are the Crimes Happening?

In Pinellas, FL, the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. The Tampa Bay Times found that a teen crashes a stolen car every four days in the county. In 2015, police made 499 felony arrests for auto theft — that’s more than in Los Angeles. Most recently, there was a highly publicized incident in which a 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds stole an SUV from a dealership. The teens later died in a fiery crash following a police chase. A fourth teenager who was in the vehicle at the time of the crash was hospitalized.

But while Pinellas County is a hotbed for thefts, that doesn’t mean that other parts of the country are immune. Dealerships in the Chicago area, for example, have been repeatedly targeted by teens
(a problem that is made worse by dealership employees habitually leaving keys in vehicles). Young thieves have also stolen vehicles from Hemet, CA and Brooksville, FL.

Why Does a Thief’s Age Matter?

While some parents have begged for harsher penalties for juveniles who have stolen cars, that is not always the case. Some child advocates are leaning on the “immature teen brain” defense, saying that a person’s brain is not fully developed until around age 25. Before then, juveniles are likely to take more risks and are susceptible to peer pressure. It’s worth noting that in most reported cases of juvenile vehicle theft, two or more teens typically worked together, indicating that peer pressure played a role in the crimes.

According to the immature teen brain argument, juveniles shouldn’t be held fully responsible for their crimes because of their inadequate self-control and reasoning ability. In one notable case in Ontario, Canada, two teens who had been smoking marijuana and drinking stole a vehicle from a local dealership and body shop. The keys had been left in the car’s ashtray, making it an easy heist. During a joyride, the teens crashed the car, leaving the passenger with a severe brain injury.

The crash led to a trial in which the judge ruled that the dealership had a duty of care to the injured teen. The jury reasoned that the dealership should have anticipated that leaving keys in unlocked cars on the easily accessible premises might tempt minors to go joyriding in the vehicles and injure themselves — especially considering that there was evidence of theft in the area. In the end, the jury assigned 37 percent liability for the teen’s injuries to the business and 10 percent to the teen himself.

How Should You Protect Your Dealership?

In its annual report on vehicle theft, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) said that “technology is working [to reduce theft], but complacency can defeat it.”

You might have cars with advanced security features or a security system at your dealership, but these precautions are all but useless when you make simple mistakes like leaving keys in unlocked vehicles. You can’t afford not to implement proper physical security measures, which includes securing keys. In addition, make sure you have an audit trail of key usage to demonstrate that you’ve taken reasonable efforts to exercise duty of care in protecting your inventory and community.

If the trend of juvenile thefts continues, we could see more dealerships being held liable for a stolen vehicle involved in a fatal crash or used to commit crimes. Don’t let poor security put the brakes on your business.