Monday, September 22, 2014

Maintenance Man Stole From Over 100 Tenants

In Toms River, NJ, police have recently charged a maintenance man, Nicholas Bradley, with two counts of theft and one count of theft by deception.

Man unlocking apartment doorDuring a routine pawn shop database check, police discovered Bradley had made over 100 pawn sales in the last two years. After investigating the questionable behavior, they found that Bradley was the maintenance man at a local apartment complex and used the master key — which he was given to perform maintenance duties — to steal small amounts of jewelry and money from tenants. He would then sell the jewelry at pawn shops, making quite a profit on the stolen items.

The apartment complex’s current system of simply giving maintenance workers a master key is unsafe for tenants and provides workers easy access to apartments with no form of accountability. A method that could have prevented these thefts is an electronic key control system. 

With electronic key control, apartments can keep all of their keys in locked metal drawers or cabinets. The only way to unlock the system is with an authorized proximity card, fingerprint and/or password.

Then the user will request a key and provide a reason for checking it out, creating an automatic record of the transaction. The system keeps these transactions on file along with the time the key is returned. If thefts occur, you’ll be able to check your transaction records to see the employee who last accessed a specific key.

If you manage apartments want to protect your tenants and reputation, try using an electronic key control system to monitor and manage your keys and your staff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Everyday Advantages of Apartment Key Control

By now, apartment complex managers and owners should know about the safety that electronic key control systems can provide. However, many may not be aware of the additional aid they can deliver for day-to-day business operations.

We've listed a few benefits below to demonstrate how electronic key control can help your property on a daily basis.

Man holding apartment master key

Accountability


Installing an electronic key control system will make employees more accountable for their actions. Each person must log in to the system with a password, proximity card or fingerprint in order to access a key. The name of the person accessing the key is then stored electronically along with the date and time the key was taken. If a key is lost, you will quickly discover the person responsible.

You can also hold employees accountable for the length of time they possess a key. An electronic key control system would allow you to set up email and text alerts to let you know when a key has been checked out for longer than its time limit. This will allow you to make sure that employees only use the key for a specific duty and don't have time to use the key maliciously.

Accuracy


Accurate record keeping is often an overlooked benefit of electronic key control. When employees check out a key, the time and date as well as the purpose for using the key are recorded. This creates a verifiable audit trail for you to reference in case of a mishap.

For example, a report can be generated showing the number of times a specific key was needed for maintenance. If items go missing when a particular worker handles jobs, there may be a problem. A Toms River, NJ property experienced this firsthand when they discovered their maintenance man stole more than 100 items from tenants' apartments over the course of several years. If reports had been automatically generated and regularly checked, this might have been discovered sooner.

Simplicity


One of the greatest advantages of having a key control system is the increased simplicity. When the complexity of finding the right key is removed, workers will be able to save time and move on to their next job more quickly.

Key control systems can also help with complex maintenance problems. Built-in, work order tracking features will list the maintenance task, the parts needed, the parts available and the employee responsible for completing the job. When each duty is laid out clearly, maintenance workers' jobs are much simpler.

By implementing an electronic key control system, you can improve your business in these ways and many more. If you've experienced key control successes at your property, let us know in the comments below.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Buying a Key Control System? Evaluate the Vendor’s Support Options First

Women with headsetAre you thinking about investing in an electronic key control system? If so, you’re taking an important step toward protecting your business from security breaches.

But before you sign on the dotted line, take some time to consider the support options the vendor offers. As with any hardware and software, electronic key control systems can at times require support, so you’ll want to know what your options are ahead of time.

Even if a vendor appears to provide comprehensive support, take a close look at these four areas to determine how support issues will be addressed after the sale.

Who Handles Service Issues?


Vendors might be able to troubleshoot their proprietary software, but many outsource support for third-party hardware components such as:
  • Monitors
  • Servers
  • Fingerprint readers
  • License scanners
  • Third-party software integrations
  • Printers
  • Magnetic stripe readers
  • Proximity card readers
  • Digital signature pads
Make sure you know which system components the vendor supports in-house. If the company isn’t able to provide direct support for any ancillary hardware used with the system, you’ll need to obtain contact information for all the companies who support the peripherals you plan on using.

Does the Company Cover Third-Party Support Costs?


If a vendor outsources support to third-party manufacturers, find out if the company covers any of the support costs or if you’re responsible for paying them in full. Even if the vendor contacts the manufacturer on your behalf, you could be responsible for any replacement or repair costs.

Note that many manufacturers don’t publish service charges, making it difficult for you to control costs. In addition, if the item isn’t fully covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you could be forced to absorb the entire cost of any necessary repairs or replacements.

What Are the Manufacturer Warranty Terms?


If you’re required to purchase manufacturer warranties for any hardware used with the key control system, familiarize yourself with the terms of the warranty before investing in that system. When third-party hardware is used with software or hardware not authorized by the manufacturer, including key control systems, warranty coverage can be rendered void if problems arise.

In addition, warranties only provide repair or replacement coverage for a specified period. If no coverage is available after the warranty period, any hardware failures can make repairs difficult, if not impossible, and replacement hardware might not be compatible with the key control system.

What Are the Company’s Support Hours?



Clock on top of calendarWhen evaluating key control vendors, it’s important to determine not only what type of support they offer but also when support is available. If the key control company provides support directly, do they have an around-the-clock hotline, or are help desk representatives only available during business hours?

If the company outsources support to a reseller or hardware manufacturer, you should also find out what their support hours are. Keep in mind that time differences can cut down on the amount of time you’ll have access to support.

Hopefully, after examining the support options available to you, you can confidently move forward with your purchase. If you find you need more support coverage, however, check out our post “What to Look for in a Key Management Vendor” to find a company that’s willing to work with you to meet your needs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Theft of Unattended Master Keys Disrupts Hotels

The last thing a hotel wants to experience is a robbery. It can lead to a loss of both reputation and revenue. Unfortunately without proper key control practices, hotels put themselves at risk and make theft much more likely.

Keys at reception deskThe Bright Inn in Loganville, GA discovered their guests were robbed as a result of substandard key security measures. A guest had taken the hotel's master key and used it to steal items from several rooms before fleeing.

This comes on the heels of two previous incidents where sets of master keys were stolen from a Motel 6 laundry room and a Red Roof Inn's front desk.

These events reflect a troubling trend at lodging establishments this year: Employees are leaving keys out in the open. Fortunately key and asset theft can be deterred by installing a secure key control system.

Electronic key control systems hold employees more accountable for their key use. Each time someone wants to check out a master key, they must log in with a password, proximity card or fingerprint. This creates an electronic paper trail detailing exactly who had a key and when they took it. When employees know that lost keys can be traced back to them, they'll be more careful not to leave keys where an unauthorized person could take them.

With keys returned to the security of a tamper-resistant key control system, crimes of opportunity are discouraged. The likelihood of having to deal with thefts such as the above are greatly reduced and key use becomes much more efficient. In this way, key control can help you keep a good reputation while saving time and money.

For more information about how electronic key control can secure your keys and assets, check out the four different layers of physical security.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Automated Key Control Can Protect Your Data Center

Modern data centerWith the string of data breaches among popular retailers during the past year, businesses are aware more than ever of the importance of cyber security.

However, one issue that hasn’t received much time in the spotlight lately is that if you take measures to protect your data against an online breach but fail to make sure your physical data center isn’t secure, you’re still susceptible to a data breach. After all, even data stored in the cloud resides in a physical data center.

Whether you store your data in a self-managed on-site facility or outsource it to a data vaulting vendor, you need to take adequate steps to protect the hardware containing your data against physical intrusions.

Restrict Access to Data Center


The Corporate Compliance Insight blog relates an account of a software company that went out of business after its backup tapes and a server containing all its database data were stolen. Over the weekend, thieves had jimmied the lock to the double front doors through a gap in the entryway. They simply entered the data center, which had been left propped open to provide better temperature control.

This company’s experience demonstrates that in the same way you encrypt data to deter cyber attacks, you need to ensure that the physical area in which your racks are stored is protected by secure door locks and make sure doors remain locked at all times.

Implement Rack-Level Access Controls


Data center security breaches don’t always happen after hours. One of the easiest ways to gain unauthorized access to a data center is by tailgating, where a visitor follows an employee into the facility.

For an additional layer of security, consider implementing access controls at the rack level. If you store your data at a colocation center that manages data for multiple clients, be sure you’re aware of how they secure the rack space containing your servers.

Take Precautions Against Insider Theft


In 2013, insider data breaches rose 80 percent as compared to 2012. To protect your data against physical security breaches, secure keys in a high-security electronic key control system that can restrict key access at both the user level and key level.

For example, some key control systems control user access through features such as fingerprint readers for biometric authentication, dual login requirements, motion-activated security cameras and manager-defined user permissions profiles.

At the key level, many electronic key control systems will sound an alarm or send a text or email alert if an employee attempts to remove a key they’re not authorized to have. Other systems, such as the KeyTrak Guardian, can even physically lock down keys so only authorized employees can remove them.

Use Automated Key Control Reporting


When performing routine physical security audits, key control logs are essential to determining how keys are being used and identifying potential security issues. Using an electronic key control system can automatically produce a 100 percent verifiable audit trail. This eliminates the element of human error that’s inherent in manual key control logs.

Automated reporting is also useful in that you can choose to receive an email or text alert in the event of a security breach, at which point you can run the necessary reports to investigate the issue.

For more physical security best practices, read our post "The Four Layers of Physical Security."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prepare, Don't Panic

Panicked. 

It’s the best way to describe how you feel when you walk into your business and discover there has been a break-in. You’ve just lost your sense of security, valuable time and hard-earned money.

Prepared. 

It’s how you can feel if you take some steps to secure your business before it’s too late. This comes from implementing the appropriate physical security, installing an intruder alarm and having an electronic key control system.

Electronic key panelIf you use manual key control like a pegboard, you would be right to panic at the sight of a break-in. However, with an electronic key control system, you’ll know your valuable keys (and more importantly, the valuable things they unlock) are protected. You’ll be glad you prepared ahead of time.

If your intruder alarm doesn’t sound, the break-in might have come from an employee with access to enter the building. As you move forward with the investigation of the break-in, you can check your electronic key control system’s records. If it turns out the break-in occurred because an unauthorized user gained access to a key, you’ll be able to track down the last authorized user who had it and determine if they misplaced it.

The system automatically records all key activity, including when the key is removed, how long it’s out, when it’s returned and who checked it out. If a key is checked out for a suspiciously long time, you’ll know exactly who to approach about the situation.

A lot of businesses don’t realize the need for electronic key control until after a break-in occurs. But if you install an electronic key control system well ahead of time, you can be prepared and protected. Check out our website to find out more about electronic key control.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Museum Theft: The Inside Scoop

Eighty-eight percent of all museum thefts involve someone on the inside. This means the people you hope you can trust the most with valuable artifacts may, in fact, be the ones you have to scrutinize most closely.

The Silverton Museum in Oregon learned that lesson the hard way when two antique watches went missing without any sign of forced entry.

A contributing factor to the theft was the fact that nearly 15 volunteers had access to the keys for the first watch's display case. Moreover, the second watch's display case didn't even have a lock. When the watches went missing, there weren't any clear indications of who might have opened the showcases.

Key shining in gold lightThe museum can't ignore the need for tighter security now. The first step in tightening security would be putting locks on every exhibit. This small action would go a long way in securing valuable historical pieces and deterring any potential thieves.

Next, the museum would need to find a way to ensure responsibility among their employees and volunteers. One way to enforce accountability is by using an electronic key control system.

With an electronic key control system, you can give each user a different authorization level. Instead of providing volunteers access to every display case key, you can limit access to only the specific key that a volunteer needs.

Key control systems also create an automatic record each time someone checks out a key. If a theft does occur, an electronic paper trail will lead to the last person who had the keys. Even if they aren't responsible for the missing item, they might know how someone gained access to the keys that were in their possession.

Check out this post for more benefits of electronic key control.