Monday, November 24, 2014

$225,000 Cash Stolen From Police Property Room

Cash in paper bag
After a two-year investigation, a police department in Plantation, FL is dealing with the theft of nearly $225,000 in cash.

The money had been stored in the department’s property room, where confiscated assets are kept. Unfortunately, the department’s storage methods consisted of stashing the cash in paper bags within a file cabinet. The cabinet was routinely kept locked as of 2011, but the keys were stored in an unlocked box.

The theft was discovered when a man recently released from prison came back to retrieve his money and the department couldn’t find the money within the property room, which was in disarray and lacking adequate records for asset tracking.

Eventually, the stash of cash was found, but several of the paper bags were either slashed open or missing altogether. The theft is thought to be an inside job, but without an adequate audit trail and system of checks and balances, the department is unable to prosecute the suspect.

The police department has taken measures to prevent future thefts by implementing security measures such as around-the-clock security cameras, impromptu property room searches and a policy prohibiting employees being alone in the room.

Law enforcement agencies can learn from the Plantation Police Department’s experience by auditing their security policies, especially asset management and key control procedures. For example, departments responsible for storing valuable confiscated assets can use a high-security electronic key control system with secure lockers to keep items locked up. Rather than keeping locker keys in unsecured boxes, they can be physically locked down in a secure panel that only permits authorized users to remove them.

Using a system with a motion-activated camera, audit trail and biometric fingerprint authentication methods can help create an automatic audit trail that allows key usage to be traced to a specific employee.

To read more about using electronic key control systems for asset management, check out our post “Asset Management: When You Have to Secure More Than Keys.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

Are You Adequately Securing Your Dealership's Keys?

So you've purchased and installed an electronic key management system at your dealership. That's all you have to do to secure your keys, right? Wrong. Your system will only serve its purpose (protecting your keys and the cars on your lot) if you use it properly.

We've outlined below some common mistakes that dealership owners make (and how to fix them) when employing electronic key management systems.

Not Keeping All Keys in the System

keys with "NO" symbol
Whether it's the spare key kept with the owner's manual or valet keys, some dealership owners choose to keep some of their keys out of electronic management systems but secure others inside of it. Some cite limited space in their systems (though some electronic systems can hold up to 5,760 keys) as the reason for not securing every key tightly. Convenience is another common reason, although there is nothing convenient about paying up to tens of thousands of dollars in rekeying costs if keys are stolen from your dealership.

Make it a best practice to fill your electronic key management system with every key that unlocks a car on your lot.

Not Monitoring the Area Where Your System Is Kept

Once you have secured all of your dealership's keys in your electronic management system, you need to find a secure area for the system itself. Just like banks don't keep their vaults unmonitored, you shouldn't keep your system in an unmonitored area. Placing it in a back room or an off-site location reduces user accountability.

Place the system where there is little customer traffic but where it is accessible to authorized users, such as a manager's office.

Not Setting up Authorization Levels

authorized personnel signAfter putting all of your keys in an electronic management system and keeping the system in a monitored area, you may think you're finished as far as secure key control. If all employees have authorization to check out any key, you're opening yourself up to unnecessary liability risks. Unfortunately, there's also the possibility of internal theft to consider.

To lessen the chances of internal theft, set up varying levels of authorization. Employees on the sales floor, in the service department and other areas should only be authorized to check out keys relative to their duties and responsibilities.

By fixing these three mistakes, you can rest assured that your keys are safe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Casino Key Control: Stacking the Odds in Favor of Key and Asset Security

The glitz, glamour and excitement that surround casinos can sometimes distract from what is going on behind the scenes. A complex system involving casinos' most precious assets and the keys that secure them has evolved over the years in an attempt to deter criminals.

Poker chips
Key control systems aid in preventing theft by not only keeping assets out of the grasp of unauthorized individuals, but also keeping them from gaining access to the keys protecting those items. Here are a few ways electronic key control systems can keep your keys and assets secure.

Key Security

You most likely already know the importance of locking up your cash and chips in secure vaults. However, if the keys that unlock the vaults aren't also secure, your items are still susceptible to theft. An electronic key control system can help prevent keys from falling into the wrong hands.

Select a key control system that allows you to set up additional barriers such as logging in with a password, proximity card or fingerprint when users want to access a key. Once you set these additional security measures, key access will be denied without the proper credentials.

You should also make sure you select a key control system with an active total lockdown feature to prevent any other key from being taken, even accidentally. Only the requested key will unlock and all other keys will stay locked in place, so you can be confident that your casino's keys are secure.

Asset Security

Casinos must protect a number of important assets along with keys. For instance, guards' firearms should be locked away when not being worn. Laptops and smartphones may also need to be secured if they contain proprietary company data.

To best protect your non-key assets, look for a key control system that provides alternative lockdown storage such as steel lockers. Not only will these tamper-resistant lockers prevent important assets from being taken, but employees' access can be restricted to just the lockers for which they've been authorized. By limiting access to only the people who need certain items, you greatly reduce the chances of theft.

Using a system that secures both your assets and keys will help ensure robbers don't disrupt your operations. To learn more about the benefits of electronic key control, check out this post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Solve Key Management Issues for High-Rise Office Spaces

High-rise office buildings
High-rise office space is popular because it’s a convenient way to accommodate more employees on less acreage. However, managing high-rise buildings is also high-stress, particularly concerning key control. More space equals more people, more keys and more security issues.

Automating key management processes can help bring order to what would otherwise be organizational chaos. Here are three ways electronic key control systems can help make managing high-rise building keys safer and more efficient.

Track High Volume of Keys

It’s only logical that the more rooms there are, the more keys there will be: keys for company suites, individual offices, cubicles, file cabinets, storage closets, mechanical rooms, etc.

To centralize key management, you can install electronic key control systems in multiple locations throughout the building and network the systems. Using remote web-based key control software, administrators can then access each key control system from a central location to perform duties such as setting up users, entering asset data or running network reports regarding key activity on all systems combined.

Manage Key Access for Multiple Employees

Managing a high volume of keys becomes more complicated when you throw in a large number of employees with different key usage needs.

Not all staff members need — or should have — full access to all building keys. For example, the customer service manager doesn’t need a key to the CEO’s office, and an accountant doesn’t need access to the custodial room. Not all keys have a dedicated use, though. Multiple employees might have access to a particular key (e.g., to a conference room), which could lead to scheduling conflicts and key tracking issues.

You also have to consider not only who has access to certain keys, but when and for how long. Some staff members might be issued a key on a permanent basis (e.g., their office key), while others only need a key (e.g., the conference room key) for a specific time frame. In addition, employees might have permission to check out a certain key only at specific times, such as while they’re on the clock or during business hours.

With so many access types and levels, manual key control is cumbersome and susceptible to errors. Electronic key control allows you to predefine access levels and grant or deny access to keys depending on the person’s user profile. Plus, employees can reserve shared-use keys ahead of time, preventing scheduling issues.

Reduce Security and Liability Risks

High-rise buildings present more opportunities for security breaches. For instance, with so many people working in the same building, it’s easier for unauthorized people to tailgate into the facility without being noticed, because employees are used to seeing unfamiliar faces. This risk makes it especially important for employees in charge of specific keys to make sure they lock up private areas.

Of course, if someone doesn’t properly secure a key and an unauthorized person finds it, they can access secured areas, even if they’re locked.

To mitigate liability in situations such as these, you first need to control access to keys. Electronic key control systems provide an additional layer of security by producing a key usage audit trail. (Note that some key control systems do require manual steps to produce key control records; others will create an audit trail automatically.)

Having this information can help you trace security issues back to the employee who was responsible for the keys to any areas involved in a breach. In addition, if employees try to access a key they’re not authorized to have or don’t return a key on time, managers can be immediately notified by a text or email alert.

By using electronic key control systems to address high-rise key management challenges, you can keep unnecessary chaos at bay. To learn more, check out our post on automating key control logs.