Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Condo Master Key Control: Five Risks and How to Solve Them

Burglar breaking in with key
Fueled by a heroin addiction, a maintenance technician at a Massachusetts condominium community robbed 19 separate residents over a period of a few years. The monetary value of the items amounted to several thousand dollars, but worse than that, many were irreplaceable heirlooms passed down through multiple generations.

In Canada, a condominium complex spent $30,000 to $40,000 to rekey its building after someone stole a bike from a storage unit.

The common thread in these stories is master keys. The maintenance technician abused his access to the master key to enter residents’ homes, and someone stole a master key from the fire safety box at the Canadian complex to let themselves in to the storage unit.

It’s not uncommon for condo associations to keep master keys on file (or at least copies of each resident’s key), but is the way you handle keys putting your association and residents at risk?

Master Key Risks


Unfortunately, it’s difficult to keep master keys out of the hands of unauthorized people and prevent authorized key holders from abusing their access. Some common issues include the following:

No Rekeying After Construction

During construction, contractors use a master key system to allow them to move easily throughout the building. Once the development is complete, it’s difficult to know which contractors and other vendors might still have master keys to the building. If your condo building hasn’t been rekeyed since it was built, you’re leaving homeowners vulnerable.

Unauthorized Duplication

Stamping keys with “Do Not Duplicate” provides a false sense of security. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) advises members to discourage customers from relying on this inscription as a security precaution, as it’s not legally binding unless the law prohibits duplication of the keys (such as keys used by the Department of Defense).

If someone wants a copy of a key badly enough, they aren’t likely to let the “Do Not Duplicate” warning stop them. A quick Google search reveals strategies for disguising an inscription, such as hiding it with a rubber cover or covering it with tape and writing a unit number or “Shed Key” on it, so the locksmith is more likely to make copies. There are even local threads dedicated to recommending locksmiths that will ignore the inscription.

Key Abuse

Assuming someone is authorized to use a master key as part of their job, can you be sure that they’re using the key for legitimate reasons? As one lawyer told The Palm Beach Post, even if condo associations have a right of access, it’s “not to be abused by a maintenance man who needs a private place, and not so a maintenance man can use a bathroom.” Failing to abide by these standards can lead to legal issues.

Key Theft

The risk of key theft goes up if you keep keys in an insecure place, such as a fire box that can be easily pried open, a pegboard from which keys can be swiped, or in a desk drawer that’s left unlocked. If you don’t maintain a verifiable access log to track who’s removed keys and when, that risk increases even more.

Carte Blanche Electronic Access

Smart locks, also called electronic locks or keyless entry, give residents the ability to unlock their doors with codes, fobs, or even their smartphones. Keyless entry is convenient, but it does come with more administrative effort than some property managers may realize. If the property uses a system with security tokens, condo association employees may choose to program a master access method that opens all unit doors. This practice presents many of the same risks as master keys.

How to Protect Your Community


To protect your community, follow the below best practices for key security:

Rekey When Necessary

If your building hasn’t been rekeyed since construction or if a master key has gone missing, it’s critical that you rekey to protect residents. To avoid this expense in the future, take steps to secure the keys in your care.

Inform Homeowners

Let homeowners know if you have a master key on file, how you’ll secure it, who will use it, and in what circumstances it’ll be used. If possible, request individual copies of unit keys instead of maintaining a master. Also notify residents when the key to their home has been removed and why.

Keep Accurate Logs

Keep a log of which employees and board members are authorized to access which keys and when. Be sure to update this record and collect any unreturned keys when an employee leaves or when new board members are elected.

In case you need to investigate a possible issue with key abuse, ensure you have a way to pull reports on demand. Using an electronic key control system to create an electronic log minimizes the possibility for human error and manipulation.

Implement the Right System From the Right Partner

To secure keys, implement a patented key control system (a recommendation that’s supported by the ALOA). If you use electronic locks and use preprogrammed access fobs or proximity cards, consider using an electronic key control system to restrict access to those tokens. Just be sure to choose your key control partner carefully — one of homeowners’ top complaints about associations is when management chooses low-quality or unethical vendors.

Train Employees and Board Members

Implement periodic key control training for employees and board members. This ensures that those responsible for keys know what’s expected of them and are aware of the consequences for failing to follow your key control procedures.

Without taking the right precautions, your master keys could be mastering you. By taking steps to secure keys and hold authorized users accountable, you can avoid costly security breaches and put homeowners’ minds at ease.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Lot of cars next to harborHow would you react if you discovered that five vehicles had been stolen from your dealership’s lot? What about when police tell you that organized criminals were responsible for the theft — and that those five vehicles were likely shipped overseas to be used in activities related to drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes?

Believe it or not, this exact scenario is happening more often, thanks to a common dealership practice: keeping keys in window-mounted lockboxes.

Why Dealers Love Lockboxes


Dealers who use window-mounted lockboxes say one of the reasons they prefer this key control method is it prevents salespeople from abandoning prospects on the lot to retrieve vehicle keys.

However, consider that 60 percent of the car-buying process happens online, with buyers spending nearly 15 hours researching their intended purchase. When prospects visit your store, they’ve already done their research and don’t want to spend time wandering the lot. Even if they did, having prospects in the middle of your sea of inventory only distracts and confuses them, delaying the sales cycle.

Having the vehicle they want to test drive already pulled up when they arrive for an appointment is going to make for a more positive experience than dragging them out to the lot to retrieve a key from the lockbox.

Why Thieves Love Lockboxes


In fact, keeping keys in lockboxes could make you a target for organized crime. Storing keys with each vehicle — as opposed to storing them in a secure location separate from your inventory — simply makes thieves’ jobs easier.

Sure, lockboxes are more secure than keeping keys inside an unlocked car, but as one Tennessee dealer realized, they’re not as foolproof as you might think. Professional thieves have ways to thwart lockboxes, such as using a master key they’ve purchased online, intercepting the fob signal, or simply smashing the box open.

How to Protect Your Inventory


To reduce the risk of theft, it’s important to implement a key control solution that meets at least the following criteria:

  • Prevents unauthorized users from removing keys
  • Keeps keys separate from vehicles
  • Allows salespeople to easily check out keys for test drives

Be sure to continually review your key security measures, especially since new vulnerabilities crop up every day.

To learn more about how organized criminals are targeting dealerships and what you can do to protect your business, download our eBook “Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Daily Key Control System Checklist

Daily Key Control System Checklist
There’s a reason — several, in fact — some of the most successful leaders use checklists. Not only do they help you stay organized, they also help you delegate and achieve excellence. The same principles apply to effective key management.

With a small daily time investment in your KeyTrak system, you can save time in the long run and prevent hours of headaches in the future. Use the checklist below as a starting point and feel free to customize it for your organization. There are some tasks you should perform throughout the day and others you only need to handle at the end of the day. Once you get into the habit of using this checklist, it’ll become second nature.

Throughout the Day


Inspect the Drawer(s)

Log in, open each drawer, and quickly scan the contents to make sure all keys are properly attached to the tags and all tags have been returned to a slot.

Check the System Summary Screen

Check the System Summary screen for an at-a-glance overview of recent key and user activity. This screen is continuously displayed at the bottom of the main screen, making it easy to keep tabs on system transactions.

Review Automatic Email Reports

If you haven’t already, consider setting up automatic email reports so you can conveniently monitor system activity from your desk.

Pay Attention to Pop-up Messages

If a pop-up message appears on the screen, don’t ignore it. Be sure to follow any instructions it includes. Users should be trained to contact a system administrator, their manager, or KeyTrak support if they encounter an issue.

At the End of the Day


Ensure All Keys Have Been Returned to the System

Making sure all keys have been returned to the system at the end of the day helps prevent security breaches. Use the System Summary screen to quickly see how many keys are checked out.

Run Keys Out and Tag Inventory Reports

If you see that keys are still checked out of the system at the end of the day, run Keys Out and Tag Inventory reports to see which keys haven’t been returned and which users checked them out. Keep reports on file for at least 90 days in case you need them to investigate an incident.

Perform a Backup

Back up the system via an external media device or KeyTrak Cloud Backup and ensure you have a data recovery plan. This ensures that in the event of an event such as a power outage, you’ll have a map of each drawer’s contents.

If it’s not possible to complete all these steps personally, whether you’re going to be out of the office or the business closes after you’ve left for the day, you can share any or all of these tasks with a trusted system administrator.

Taking a few minutes every day to go through your checklist and monitor your KeyTrak system will help your business be secure, efficient, and successful.