The success of your key management directly affects the security of your organization. While locks and keys are the first line of defense to protect your facilities, products, and employees, how well you manage your locks and keys can either strengthen your security or undermine your efforts. Effective key control builds on the security of your locks and keys with strong key policies, key tracking best practices, and efficient key control. Let’s break down the core components of successful key control program.
Simplify the Responsibility
While you may have multiple high-access owners, employees, or policy makers, your key control is most secure when you simplify the responsibilities and consolidate control to a limited number of key management administrators. Letting only a few administrators establish and enforce policy improves control while minimizing managerial oversights. Separation of key control duties between specific administrators also helps to better maintain your key tracking records of who has what keys. Tracking software also simplifies day-to-day key control practices and allowing for consistent key control policy enforcement. While you can have more people with high-level access, having specialized administrators over each facility, location, or area streamlines your key control program while enhancing your security.
Implement and Enforce Key Control Policy
Your key control policy dictates your organization’s expectations for key holders. Key control policy includes your workflows for providing keys to new employees, key distribution after a lock change, security expectations for keyholders, and your process for returning keys when an employee or stakeholder leaves your organization. Your key control policy doesn’t need to be overly complex or difficult to be effective and secure. Focus on creating actionable and understandable key control policies that are regularly communicated to key holders. Simple enough. And remember to always collect keys before any employee separation.
Quality Locks & Keys
It may not come as a surprise to hear that the success of your key management system is dependent on the locks and keys your organization is using. There are many lock and key manufacturers who provide secure, high-quality locks and keys. When considering which locks and keys are the right fit for your company’s budget and security needs, look for these important features:
Restricted keys are the most secure physical keys you can use because they cannot be copied and additional keys cannot be cut without authorization. Restricted keys are not available on the open market. Key blanks necessary to duplicate keys cannot be found locally at locksmiths, key duplication kiosks, or hardware stores. This makes it so that keys can only be made through your manufacturer or authorized distributor partner with authorization. Eliminating the possibility of key duplicates being made without your knowledge is a crucial step toward maintaining facility security. When keys can only be ordered by authorized personnel, every issued key can be effectively tracked and you can rest assured that there will not be any extra keys in circulation. When you can control the number of keys in circulation, you can control who has access.
Small Format Interchangeable Cores
Small format interchangeable cores (SFIC) are the standard in many retail and multi-facility commercial organizations for their convenience and cost-effectiveness. SFIC cores are the figure 8-shaped locking mechanism within a lock housing that can be removed in order to change the locks after a security breach. Compared to standard conventional cores, which require a locksmith to change the locks, SFIC cores make key control faster and easier. These cores can be swapped out without any professional assistance, which is why they are often used in industries where missing keys are more common. You can compare small format interchangeable cores from some of the biggest names in the industry here.
User-Rekeyable Small format Interchangeable Cores
Small format interchangeable cores were created in the early 1900’s to address the time-consuming and expensive hassle of calling a locksmith out to change the locks every time a rekey was necessary. But SFIC core innovation hasn’t ended there. In the 1980’s InstaKey created the user-rekeyable SFIC core. This core fits into the locking hardware like traditional SFIC cores, but it does not have to be removed from the locking hardware to be rekeyed. Instead, a Step Change key is used to re-combinate the core with a single key turn. This rekeying process can be completed nine times before a core needs to be swapped out for a new set of rekeys. This simplifies management and significantly reduces the expenses associated with buying additional spare inventory to keep track of.
Key Tracking Software
At the heart of successful key control is key tracking software. The physical security of your facilities is dependent on your ability to track who has access and what they have access to. Look to have your key control data cloud accessible, so it can be up-to-date and current, allowing you to streamline your key management. The more data input, the more it allows you to effectively monitor the performance of your keys in many different aspects. Some important data-centric activities include tracking costs, pulling activity reports of active keys, users, and locations in the event of a data breach, keeping current key assignments, logging key acceptance, and auditing your key system.
Within your key tracking software, keep accurate records of all your locations and access points. Recording additional information relevant to the doors and locks can include the lock and key type installed, installation and warranty information, vendor servicing contacts, door types, keys issued for that location, and key holders who have access. Keeping accurate and up-to-date location records is especially important for multi-site facilities, where you may have multiple administrators working together or a single administrator handling multiple facilities. If keeping up with this level of record keeping is too much of a manual commitment, there are data services available for automatic transfer of records to and from your Human Resources and Location Asset systems to sync data.
After knowing exactly which locations you have secured, you need to know exactly who has access to your locations and entry points. The information you track at the key level can be extensive. Track keys to their associated locks by serial number or stamping, by user, according to the status of the key, and the system the key is associated with. You should also keep track of the assignment history of keys and establish a recurring audit solution to retain accuracy and compliance.
Comprehensive Key Control
Every organization’s key control looks different. Your key management is dependent on the number of facilities within your organization, your current lock and key provider, your security budget, and your current workflow for tracking keys. Before enhancing or upgrading your current key control, take stock of what system you have in place now and where it could be better optimized to improve key management.
InstaKey is a trusted lock and key provider with comprehensive key control solutions. From restricted, serialized keys to user-rekeyable cores to cloud-based key tracking software, InstaKey can support your organization at every level of your key control needs. For a deeper look into the power of InstaKey’s key management solutions, check out our key tracking software and the many facets of key control that can be easily managed by clicking the button below.