Tuesday, October 21, 2014

University Chemistry Laboratories: Is Your Key Control Strong Enough?

Scientist working with chemicalsChemistry laboratories have good reason to keep stock chemicals under lock and key — especially when working with dual-use chemicals. These chemical compounds have legitimate scientific applications, but they can also be used for criminal purposes, such as illicit drug creation and chemical warfare.

With these liability risks, it’s imperative for labs to employ adequate key control measures to prevent dual-use chemicals from falling into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, they don’t always secure the chemicals as tightly as they should. In recent years, several chemical thefts have made headlines:
A handbook on lab safety precautions even suggests that criminals have posed as university students convincingly enough to gain access to lab stock rooms.

These stories reveal the need for better access controls for chemicals. So what can you do to improve security in your lab?

Address Key Control Problems

There is a manageable solution for addressing key control problems. For one, you should keep all keys in a single area, which reduces the chance of them being lost or stolen. Also make sure keys are secured properly. Instead of hanging keys on a pegboard, secure them in an electronic drawer or locker panel that physically locks down key tags.

To keep track of who is using keys, you can implement biometric authentication protocol, making it nearly impossible for a criminal to pose as authorized personnel. For instance, KeyTrak Guardian electronic key control systems utilize biometric fingerprint readers to ensure the integrity of the audit trail, so you know exactly which person signed into the system and which keys they accessed.

Some key control systems — including KeyTrak Guardian — even give you the option to be immediately notified by text or email if an employee doesn’t return a key by a certain time or if an unauthorized person attempts to break in to the system.

By taking adequate measures to protect the areas in which dual-use chemicals are stored, you can protect your lab from theft and maybe even save some lives as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thief Uses Stolen Key for Dramatic Joyride

Shattered glass and dollar signA Seattle-area resident’s urge for a joyride in a luxury vehicle ended in a dramatic theft fit for the big screen.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 7, a security guard arrived at a Lake City Chevrolet dealership to find the showroom doors shattered on the floor, the tile floor covered with tire tracks and the keys to a $75,000 Camaro Z28 gone — the aftermath of the thief crashing the luxury vehicle through the building’s locked doors.

The badly damaged vehicle was discovered in the driveway of a private residence only half a mile away.

To keep joyriders from gaining access to your dealership’s keys, it’s vital to store keys out of sight in an electronic key control system. The system should have the ability to sound an alarm and notify managers via a text or email alert when an unauthorized person tries to gain access to keys. By implementing these security precautions, you can help prevent rogue joyrides before they happen.

To learn more about the liability risks of poor key control, read how this dealership had four cars stolen in one week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What an Unconventional Bank Robber Can Teach Us About Fleet Management

Fleet car keyFor most people, the term “bank robber” evokes images of a masked bandit with a firearm in one hand and a cash sack in the other.

But Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) employee-turned-thief Aron Johnson preferred a different approach.

After helping himself to a disabled coworker’s bank credit card, Johnson used a state vehicle to stop by multiple ATMs, where he withdrew a total of $500 in cash from the victim’s account. Johnson had just been hired by DelDOT days before and did not have authorization to be driving the vehicle.

Johnson’s story shows why it’s necessary for organizations with fleet departments to closely control and monitor who has access to vehicles. Here are three essential components of a fleet management key control policy.

Employee Access Controls

To prevent employees from accessing keys they shouldn’t have, like Johnson did, you need to store them in a secure key control system with access levels. The system should require employees to verify their identities before logging on, such as by scanning a fingerprint. For employees who have access to a finite number of keys, make sure the system allows for customizable permissions levels.

Alerts and Alarms

If an employee attempts to access the system or a specific key without the proper permissions, make sure the key control system is equipped to notify management immediately either through an audible alarm or an alert by text or email.

In a situation like Johnson’s, for instance, a manager could have been immediately notified that Johnson had removed an unauthorized key. Even if Johnson hadn’t been able to get to the key due to not having system access, a manager would have been alerted that he’d tried to log on to the system.

Audit Trail

The key to protecting your organization from liability is to have an audit trail. By keeping detailed records of vehicle key activity, including when they were checked out, who’s using the vehicles and how many miles the vehicle has upon checkout and check-in, you can quickly identify and address any unusual or illegal activity. To avoid inaccurate or incomplete data, opt for a 100 percent automatic audit trail rather than a manual key log.

For a real-life example of how an electronic key control system can be used for fleet management, read our post “Public Safety Department Opts for Updated Key Control.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Access to Valet Keys Makes Your Dealership Less Secure

Even with car security systems becoming more advanced, thieves are still using one low-tech theft method with considerable success. They are taking advantage of valet keys, which are often unknowingly or unwisely left inside the glove compartments of cars.

Thief reaching to open car door
While many of these thefts occur in car owners' personal driveways, the same trick can be used at dealerships. Under the cover of night, thieves could sneak on to the lot and drive off using valet keys they find sitting in the car.

Now more than ever, it's important to treat valet keys like fully functional keys, because there is essentially no difference for would-be criminals. All of the protections surrounding the main keys at your dealership must similarly be put in place for valet keys.

Foremost, each car on your lot should be checked to ensure that no valet keys remain in the glove compartment or owner's manual. If any are found, they should be removed and given to a manager.

Next, valet keys should be placed in a secure key control system to deter thieves from simply picking them up from a pegboard or countertop inside the dealership. When keys are out of sight and can't be accessed easily, criminals are less likely to attempt theft.

Finally, valet key usage should be tracked using customizable reports created by the key control system. Reports can reveal a trend in the frequency and length of key usage. If valet keys are being used at strange hours or for abnormal lengths of time, employees may be misusing the vehicles.

What methods are you taking to make sure your valet keys stay safe?