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Ensuring Safety With a Master Key System

Conceptual image of micro circuit. Security concept-1For facilities and security teams, ensuring the safety and security of an organization’s assets is a primary concern. In the case of city municipalities or regulated infrastructure organizations, which can have a large number of buildings and employees who require access, rekeying in the event of a security breach is simply infeasible. One of the most effective ways to protect the integrity of an organization is through the installation of a well-planned, master key system. Master key systems provide unparalleled convenience, security, and versatility when it comes to controlling a hierarchy of building access. 


The Evolution of the Master Key System 

In the past, building managers and security personnel relied on a heavy, impractical, extensive set of keys to open individual rooms. Keys were easily lost or stolen and once one section was compromised, there was a possibility that every lock would have to be rekeyed to regain control. The process and time involved in rekeying every lock added up quickly and significantly reduced workforce efficiency. 

The master key system was created to solve this costly and time-consuming issue, implementing a calculated combination of individual keys, cylinders, and locks with one master key that has access to every door. Some systems even operate using a combination of mechanical hardware and electronic locking technology for enhanced security. 

In addition to securing access and increasing convenience, master key systems are preferred for their scalability. This type of technology accounts for the future growth of an organization as more employees are brought onboard or new buildings are constructed so there is no need to invest in a new keying system. In the event of a security breach, master key systems are also able to help minimize losses by making it easy for investigators to narrow down the list of suspects based on the audit trail of who has access to which locks. 

Is Your Organization Vulnerable? 

Any enterprise is susceptible to many types of vulnerabilities based on the products or services they offer and the relationship they have with their employees. From criminals obtaining lost keys to employees making additional copies for convenience sake, there are plenty of factors that can expose an organization and threaten their overall security. 

Because keys are cut to match a series of grooves that correspond to pins and springs in a lock, decoding a system is a simple process of elimination for an experienced criminal. Implementing additional features like sidebars and active elements can work to reinforce security measures and make decoding and lock picking a much more difficult and time-consuming task.

Designing an Effective Master Key System 

The functionality of the master key system relies on the careful planning and consideration of facilities management and security teams to determine how many keys will be needed and who will receive which type of key. To achieve the proper balance between building security and employee convenience, the master key system will need to provide access to the right people with the right keys, while restricting access to others. This begins by defining the levels of keying that will be necessary. Master key systems outline a hierarchy of access and can be made of hierarchies that look like this:

  • Great Grand Master System - With 4 levels of access (great grand master, grand master, master and user keys), this type of master system is typically seen in larger institutions like hospitals, government complexes, and large office buildings.
  • Grand Master System – With 3 levels of access (grand master, master and user keys), office buildings and schools will frequently use this system.
  • Master System – The simplest of master systems comes with 2 levels of access (master and user keys). Some examples of where this system is implemented include apartment buildings, industrial buildings, smaller schools, multi-site retail establishments, and grocery stores. 

Save Money with Rekeyable Locks 


In the event that a lock does become compromised or a key is not returned by a former employee, some facilities management teams might begin to worry about the cost of having the locks rekeyed or replacing cylinders in an entire facility. However, any type of master key system can utilize advanced rekeyable technology, which means rekeying individual locks is simple. 

If a security breach occurs, master key systems make it easy to regain control of a system quickly and efficiently, even in the case of a lost master key. For example, if a master key is lost, there is no need to contact a locksmith because rekeyable locks can be rekeyed at the master level only and the only item that needs to be replaced is the key itself as opposed to replacing the cylinder. This rekeying process will not affect other user-level keys, helping cut down on costs and ensure that authorized staff have uninterrupted access to the restricted area. Additionally, several buildings can use the same master key, allowing organizations to expand access without paying a premium for more locking systems.

Limit Business Losses with Key Serialization 

There are many benefits to choosing a master key system for any building, but one of the most important aspects of the restricted key control program is the ability to limit business losses and expedite the investigation process in the event of a break-in. 

Each key in a master key system carries a unique serial number that allows for easy identification of individual keys in a locking system. The unique serial numbers should be recorded alongside the names of the keyholders as well as the locks to which these keys correspond. This tracking system, whether digital or manual, ensures that facilities managers and security teams always know exactly how many keys exist, who has which keys, and which respective buildings or rooms the keys open. Additionally, key blanks are not available on the open market with restricted keyways, which means that employees or criminals cannot duplicate keys without authorization.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a rekeyable master key system can increase safety and security for your enterprise, visit the resources on our Master Key System Efficiency page or contact us today. At Instakey, our experienced team of professionals can help you determine which keying system will be the most effective design for your unique needs. 

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