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Enhancing Security Through Effective Key Control

Key control remains a crucial aspect of maintaining security within any organisation, acting as both a fundamental checkpoint in security surveys and a daily operational necessity. Effective key management ensures that access to sensitive areas is controlled and monitored, reducing the risk of unauthorised entry and potential security breaches.

Assessing Key Management Practices:

When conducting a security survey, one must assess whether the organisation retrieves keys from employees upon their departure and maintains accurate records of key distribution. This initial assessment often reveals whether there is an underlying problem with how keys are managed. Many organisations utilise a master key system to streamline access for multiple users without the burden of carrying numerous keys.

Master Key Access:

Master keys are typically issued to individuals who require broad access across the organisation, including company executives, middle managers, the security department, and the maintenance team. This system simplifies operations but also necessitates stringent control measures to prevent misuse.

Guidelines for Key Control:

1. Secure Storage:

   - Invest in a large, secure key cabinet to organise and control key distribution.

   - Use two sets of key tags for each key: one indicating "file key" must not be loaned out" and another marked "Duplicate." This system helps in tracking which keys are in circulation and which are backups.

2. Detailed Record-Keeping:

   - Maintain detailed records of key assignments, including key codes, issuance dates, and recipient details.

   - Require employees to sign a receipt upon receiving a key to establish accountability.

3. Special Handling for Sensitive Keys:

   - Mark and code all keys used for alarms to prevent unauthorised duplication or misuse.

   - Regularly verify the possession of keys by guards and other staff members to ensure they have only the keys necessary for their duties.

4. Controlled Key Issuance:

   - Limit key issuance to essential personnel only to minimise potential security breaches.

   - Assign a single authorised individual the responsibility for ordering and distributing keys to maintain strict control.

5. Procedure for Key Returns:

   - Change key cylinders promptly if a key holder is discharged for cause to maintain security integrity.

   - Ensure that all departing employees return their keys at termination, and check these keys against records to confirm their return.

6. Regular Inspections and Updates:

   - Conduct periodic inspections to verify that the actual possession of keys matches the recorded data.

   - Use these inspections as opportunities to remind key holders of the protocol for reporting lost keys immediately.

7. Secure Key Identification:

   - Ensure that the original issue and any subsequent fabrication of keys include coded identifiers rather than plain language descriptions, which could be easily deciphered by unauthorised individuals.

By adhering to these guidelines, organisations can significantly enhance their security posture through meticulous key control. This not only protects physical assets but also reinforces the overall security framework by limiting access to authorised personnel only, thereby preventing potential breaches before they occur.

 From the author.

 The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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