Friday, April 11, 2014

Three Reasons to Switch From Manual Key Logs to Electronic Key Control

Is your business still using manual logs for key control? Over the last decade, businesses have been moving toward automating business processes to lower costs, improve company efficiency and improve security controls. The benefits of moving away from manual processes are clear: "Digitizing boring, repetitive and error prone tasks can reduce cycle times," reports the Financial Post. But for some businesses, key control processes have been left untouched by the wave of automation. If your business is one of them, here are three reasons to consider using an electronic key control system to manage your key log.

It's Easier to Keep Employees Accountable

man writing on paper
Manual key logs simply require a signature to retrieve a key, with no strict enforcement of accountability. Coca-Cola learned the hard way how important it is to have a reliable audit trail in place after a former supervisor stole three master key rings and used 23 keys to steal thousands of dollars from vending machines.

With an automated key logging system, employees must enter a valid password, swipe a proximity card or scan their fingerprint to gain access to keys. If there are any questions about stolen or missing items, the system records contain a verifiable real-time audit trail.

Automating Transactions Saves Time

Manual key logs seem like they would provide fast transaction times due to their simplicity, but in reality using this method over an automated system doesn't necessarily save users time. Manual logs demand more time because they require employees to write down information, whereas an electronic system instantly records all pertinent information. On average, an electronic system is about twice as fast (sometimes faster) as a manual process.

You also won't have to worry about an employee forgetting to write down when they took a key. If an employee forgets, you'd have to spend time hunting down the key with no clues. An electronic system can help you track down a missing key by sending you a text or email alert of an overdue key, including the name of the employee who last checked it out and what time they took it from the system. This will save you time and ultimately provide tighter security.

Electronic Logs Provide Better Security Controls

Businesses that use manual key logs often rely on key custodians to oversee the logs. There are a couple issues with this method. First, custodians must manually verify a user's access permissions, which is inefficient and error-prone. Second, if a custodian is unavailable for any reason, the area in which the keys and key log are kept must be restricted, inconveniencing anyone who needs keys. On the other hand, if a business uses the honor system to allow employees to remove the keys they need, the business risks the log not being updated properly and employees removing keys they are not authorized to have.

For these reasons, consider a system that has built-in security controls. An electronic system allows users to access keys within predefined business hours, regardless of whether a key custodian is present. Because an audit trail is created when the key is removed, you reduce the likelihood of human error. Finally, if an unauthorized user attempts to access the system, some systems will deny access and issue an audible alarm and/or send a text or email alert.

Have you automated your key control log? Let us know how it's improved your business processes!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Safely Delegate KeyTrak System Security

Manager delegating tasks to employees
As a manager, you may feel the need to single-handedly monitor key control system access. But failing to delegate is a good way to burn yourself out and stunt the growth of leaders at your business.

To help you empower your employees and lighten your workload (while still keeping your business secure) here is a simple tip you can follow:

Designate System Administrators

Don't feel like you're the only one who can perform administrative tasks when it comes to key security. Allow other trustworthy leaders within your business to shoulder some of the responsibility — within their own accounts.

By setting up access levels for employees on the key system, you can choose which information system administrators can view and change when they log into the system itself or through Web Plus online.

For instance, you can give supervisors access to reporting but restrict their ability to add new users. This feature allows you to make information available to your team without compromising the security of your inventory. You and your employees can also receive up-to-the-minute text alerts from your KeyTrak system, so you can immediately respond to security breaches.

Here are just a few things your supervisors can do with administrative access:
  • Generate reports. 
  • Set up key reservations. 
  • Know which employees have overdue keys. 
  • Assign key tags to the key system. 
  • Add work orders. 
  • Edit user information. 
  • View employee activity. 
Take the opportunity to delegate while keeping your business secure. If you're a current KeyTrak customer who would like more information on how to set up access levels, contact our software support team here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Three Perks of Overdue Key Alerts

Automated key control systems provide several benefits that don't come with manual key control processes, including overdue key alerts. These notifications let system administrators know when employees don't return keys on time. Here are three ways these alerts can help your business.

You Know Where to Start Looking for Missing Keys

keys hanging from thumbs upIf a key has not been returned, you probably won't discover it's missing until another employee tries to check it out. This delays  customer transactions and slows down your business.

Overdue key alerts notify you when a key has not been returned to the key system on time, so you'll know exactly which key is missing and which employee last checked it out (rather than hunting down the key with no clues).

You Can Hold Employees Accountable 

Unfortunately internal theft due to lack of key control does happen. Roughly 75 percent of employees have stolen from their employer at least once and 38 percent have stolen repeatedly.

An electronic key control system keeps a record of every time an employee checks out a key, enforcing accountability from the get-go. As an added level of accountability, the overdue key alert will let you know the moment a key has been out for too long. This reduces the likelihood that the user will have time to use the key maliciously.

You Will Know About a Potential Security Breach

Whether a key is taken by an insider or outsider, your response time is crucial. Knowing about a stolen key will give you the opportunity to possibly prevent a security breach. A system that immediately alerts you when keys are past due enables you to respond promptly, so you can secure whatever the missing key unlocks. 

Have questions about overdue key alerts? Post them in the comments! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Don't Leave Your Key Control to Luck!

keys with lucky charm
We know St. Patrick's Day can make people feel lucky, but when it comes to key control it's dangerous to rely on luck.

If you're still using traditional key control methods (e.g., lockboxes, wooden cabinets, pegboards) it's time to take control of your key security. Here are a few tips to help you create good fortune with key control.

Trust Technology

Sometimes it's tough to change your old ways, especially if you feel it's going to be a hassle to learn something new. With key control, the learning curve is worth your time. Simple, manual key control processes seem the most efficient because they're easy, and your employees just have to quickly grab the key they need. Unfortunately if it's that easy for employees who need keys to obtain them, your keys are left vulnerable to people who shouldn't have access to them.

Electronic key control systems can be just as user friendly but provide a higher level of security. An electronic system will lock down and only open for authorized users, which significantly reduces the chance of theft. In addition, it keeps an automatic record each time an employee takes a key, so you'll know exactly who has checked-out keys.

Create Varying Levels of Access

If you've followed our first tip, congratulations on your new electronic key control system! Now it's time to set things up. You can create different access levels for employees, managers and owners, narrowing the amount of keys that your employees have access to. If an employee is only allowed access to certain keys, they won't be able to take a manager- or owner-level key. This will help ensure that employees don't end up with high-security keys.

Regularly Check Reports

Electronic key control systems create different reports based on the information available. You can see a report of every key that was checked out, specify an employee and see what keys they've checked out and many more.

With access to reports that are this detailed, you need to regularly check on them to keep up with your key security. Rather than catching up after a month, consider reviewing them at least once a week (depending on how many transactions you normally have). This will save you time and ultimately tighten your key security.

For more tips on creating good key control fortune, check out our post on fingerprint authentication.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tenant Stole Master Key to Burglarize Apartments

"It's very uneasy, unsettling to know that somebody has that kind of access to all your private things that you trust are safe." —Corey Dolbear, University District tenant

burglar entering apartment
Landlords are responsible for protecting their tenants' safety by limiting access to apartment keys. Unfortunately, if keys are not secured properly, they can easily end up in the wrong hands.

In Seattle, WA, a University District tenant stole the master key to all of the units in his building and used it to burglarize other residents' apartments.

Joshua Laning, the man convicted of the thefts,  has had his fair share of encounters with the law. His background check revealed that he had 13 felony convictions under his belt. Though aware of Laning's colorful history, the apartment complex hired him anyway.

Seattle police believe that Laning stole the master key from a lockbox in the complex's utility room.

Apartment personnel discovered that the master key had been stolen only after a tenant called to report that their car keys had been stolen from their apartment along with their car. Fortunately, authorities were able to catch and imprison Laning before he did any more damage.

If you own or manage a property, opt for an electronic key control system over a lockbox to enhance key security and reduce the risk of robberies such as this one. By fully securing all keys and keeping a real-time verifiable audit trail of who has them, you can prevent keys from slipping into the hands of unauthorized users, reduce the risk of criminal activity and increase your tenants' safety.

For more ways to protect tenants, check out our post "Four Ways Apartment Complexes Can Reduce Liabilites."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Public Safety Department Opts for Updated Key Control

Many police departments have their fleet of vehicles keyed identically.

While it's convenient for officers to grab one key to operate any vehicle, it's also convenient for potential thieves.

The Greenacres, FL Public Safety Department felt these concerns, so officials decided to step up their key and vehicle security. Although it cost a pretty penny to re-key all the vehicles ($4,019, to be exact), they knew the benefits would outweigh the expense.

After creating individual keys for each vehicle, the department needed a secure location and compartment to store keys and a way to track them. An electronic key control system solved both of these problems and more.

With an electronic key control system, users must provide a form of authorization such as a password or fingerprint before they can remove a key. If an unauthorized user attempts to access a key, the system will send an alert directly to the administrator by text or email. The system also houses the keys in a single location, so there is no more guessing where specific keys are located. The system tracks who checks out a key and when, providing accountability where previously there was none.

Check out our blog series "Electronic Key Management Systems: Common Misconceptions" for more information about the benefits of key control systems.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lack of Key Control Spurs RV Thefts

RV dealerships sell everything from trailers to campers to motor homes and more, which adds up to a high value inventory. It's essential to limit access to these vehicles to prevent theft, but with outdated key control, this task can be extremely difficult.

In January 2014, the FBI caught a West Michigan thief who stole six RVs, worth a total of $1.5 million, from several different dealerships across the United States. One way to prevent RV thefts of this kind at your dealership is to properly secure keys.

With an electronic key control system, only authorized users can access keys. This method of key control enhances accountability for managers, owners and employees. The system keeps a real-time log of who checks keys out of the system and what key(s) they take.

You can also set up text or email alerts with an electronic system. If you only allow RV demo keys to be checked out for 30 minutes but one is out for longer, you'll get an alert, making it easier to immediately identify theft.

If you're still skeptical about the technology, check out our "Electronic Key Management Systems: Common Misconceptions" blog series.