Modern key management systems have become essential parts of commercial security protocols. They enable levels of security that were previously only accessible to those with enterprise-scale security budgets. In addition, key management systems offer new ways to organize access levels to many different assets, including secure facilities, vehicles, and equipment.
Every company has important assets that they want to protect. It could be mission-critical equipment, personnel, or even client data. Regardless of what it is, you undoubtedly want it kept safe, and this is where using a key management system will be beneficial.
What is a Physical Key Management System?
Key management is the process of securing, tracking, and distributing physical keys in the workplace. A physical key management system is one or more networked storage cabinets. They help you control costs and reduce overhead through automation. They also reduce key loss and the need for re-keying to nearly zero.
Storage cabinets store individual keys or different-sized key rings in locking slots. They only unlock when users authenticate themselves and specify which key ring they need. That way, you always have a complete audit trail of who took which keys and when. It is physically impossible for someone to take keys other than the ones they’re authorized to access.
Advanced key control cabinets come in various sizes with modular assembly so that you can customize their layout. For example, you may have many individual keys you want to be packed together in a small panel at one site. Then at another location, you might have a handful of very large key rings that need extra hanging space.
Access terminals are attached to key cabinets and authenticate users through one or more security methods. The most popular include PIN codes, RFID fobs, swipe cards, and biometric sign-ins like fingerprints, facial scanning, or iris eye scans. Each offers different capabilities and levels of security at different price points.
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is short-range wireless technology commonly used for machine-to-machine communication. Many advanced physical key management systems use RFID tags to authenticate keys at sign-out and return. Users can return keys to any open slot, and the system will verify identity simply by scanning the tag, so it knows where to direct the next user.
Key systems are useful security technologies, but collecting and analyzing usage data makes them powerful business intelligence sources. That happens in a central management software dashboard. They help you manage everything in a commercial access control system, including alarms, reports, and personnel access. What that means, in practice, is you get better management over the entire workflow in which keys are used.
5 Ways Electronic Key Management Systems Ground Your Commercial Security
Organizing security access
One of the most prominent ways a key management system helps ground commercial security is by organizing different types of security access. A key management system allows you to add security hierarchies, which help put powerful, complex, but easy-to-manage restrictions in place. These hierarchies can be split into various sections, zones, or classes, and you can assign each of these categories its own access code or key.
An electronic key system ensures that only authorized individuals can access specific keys. This measure gives companies the luxury of assigning different keys or access codes to different tiers of users within their organization. That enables different tiers of security and helps companies better track various access levels. It is an important aspect of building more effective commercial security.
Companies can implement better security measures and build up their security access levels on top of this security foundation. This will lend itself to a more well-rounded commercial security system, which will ground your commercial security and keep your business running efficiently.
Key management systems help prevent loss by providing detailed, air-tight digital transaction records that make it much easier to track things down. As mentioned earlier, organizing security access is an important foundational principle. Companies with a key control security management system have a very easy way of keeping track of where each key is and of knowing who has access to any particular key.
Key management systems can streamline the once tedious process of tracking keys down. They also negate the need to keep physical logs of access levels. If a specific key goes missing, this system makes tracking and figuring out what went wrong easy. At the very least, companies will not be stuck trying to find the needle in a haystack because they will know exactly where to start.
Deters employee theft
Unfortunately, employee theft is a common problem and a very difficult one to manage. This is not too surprising, given that employees know the layout and workings of their companies intricately. Of course, only a small minority of employees are ever really a theft risk. Still, our security measures must be designed as a contingency against the outsized damage those bad actors can cause.
Using a key management system helps deter employee theft because employees know that there is always a way to track their movements and access to keys. This might sound like a simple action, but it works to keep the actions of your employees in check.
Customizable security settings
Electronic key control also allows companies to customize their security settings, which gives them the benefit of switching and adding security tiers without compromising their business security systems or protocols. This is an important feature many companies only realize they need once it is too late. Customizing your security settings is handy when changing access levels or revoking existing access privileges.
These situations only arise sometimes, but failing to handle these properly leads to compromised security protocols. A good example is when you are dealing with former employees. Once an individual leaves your organization, it is necessary to remove their security clearance. However, this is difficult to do when you do not have a key management system. Without a key management system, the best solution would be to request the services of a commercial locksmith to install new locks in the hopes of resetting your security measures. The alternative to changing access levels is to depend on the good intentions of your old employees, which is not a reliable long-term security plan.
With a system like this in place, companies are given the luxury of simply being able to switch access codes or remove the ones that are no longer viable. This ensures that no loose end can come back and compromise their systems, data, or services.
Restrict unauthorized access
There are times when you have to save the best for last. For most companies that implement the use of key management systems, the restriction of unauthorized access is their primary goal. Every company needs to have a way to filter through who gets access to specific things. This does not only cover employee access, but it also extends to customers and clientele.
This restriction helps ground commercial security because it grants only minimal access to the most important parts of a company. For some companies, this could be a vault. For others, it could be a server room that houses important data. A key management system can effectively do this by providing solutions to questions of who can gain access, how they can gain access, and when they can gain access. Using a key management system, clients and employees can operate only within assigned security zones.
Ready to take control of your workplace's security?
Download our comprehensive guide: "The Ultimate Guide to Key Control in the Workplace," and learn how to create a secure and effective key control policy from start to finish.
About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.