Key Control and Risk Management

Tim Purpura Mar 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Tim Purpura

By Fernando Pires – VP, Sales and Marketing – Morse Watchmans

In developing a risk management strategy, one of the primary tactics recommended by industry specialists and consultants is to choose and implement physical security measures that will lessen the likelihood of enabling individuals to exploit any vulnerability that could lead to a loss. While operational and procedural measures are a necessary and valuable element of the overall strategy, it’s the physical security technology that can demonstrably add an extra layer of protection for personnel, property and facilities, etc. in the fight against the threat of unauthorized entry, theft, sabotage and other illegal or criminal acts.

Key control and asset management systems are an effective and increasingly important physical security technology to help achieve this goal. In fact, an essential element of risk management strategy is having an orderly and secure system for the management of keys used for securing and overseeing the facility. Regardless of the size or application, a fundamental building block of a risk management strategy can be realized through managed key control and its capability for custom solutions, minimizing and monitoring risk, and integration with the overall physical security system.

Sophisticated key management allows for a wide range of options for developing custom solutions, including the flexibility to have different levels of security in different areas of the building. Gone are the days of outdated manual logs or color coded tags that can be easily torn or lost. Today’s key control systems deliver ample testament to the bottom-line benefits of key control and help to ensure that the investment minimizes security threats and thereby provides a return on investment. Additionally, many of these key management systems reflect the current industry climate of system integration and IP connectivity.

Custom Solutions
From single-module key cabinets to systems used for securing hundreds of keys, solutions for key security, key control and key management can be tailored to a variety of management and application needs. Their smart, tamper-proof designs help to reduce utilization of wall space and they can be accessed with pass codes, access cards or biometrics. Securing personal computers, cash trays, weapons, cell phones, hand-held radios and other larger objects is also easy and convenient when locker-style modules are built into the solution. Configuring a key control and asset management system is as easy as identifying the needs and then building the system with modular components which can be changed as needs grow or change.

Minimizing and Monitoring the Risk
Key control systems are designed to electronically release keys only to authorized users. Each individual key is secured to a locking mechanism that features a built-in memory chip and the data from the chip is stored when a key is inserted into or removed from a key slot. From this data, management has a complete history of who used each key and when. For a more comprehensive solution, management software can enhance programming and reporting functions by allowing management to establish permission levels for each user code and monitor data from any desktop connected to the network. Key control systems can also react in the event of an incident. An overdue key, a cabinet door left open or misuse of the keypad will trigger an alarm and record the event in the log file.

Integrated Systems
Advanced application software enables key control systems to be virtually hardware agnostic for ease of integration with access control and other physical security systems. For instance, when a network-enabled key management system is integrated with the building’s access control system, individuals can be denied egress from a building if a key has not been returned. Or, priority email alerts can be sent to security managers to inform them of the whereabouts of specific keys. In network-enabled key control systems, authorization codes can be changed instantly and remotely to help prevent incidents such as allowing access to a recently terminated employee. Finally, when products are engineered for interactivity with other security systems, best-of-breed solutions can be implemented without costly upgrades or overhauls.

Key control is a critical issue in the formulation of a risk management strategy and can readily be implemented in organizations of every size and nature, offering an easy way to increase security and control.