How to Choose an Access Control System?

access control system

Whether you need an access control system in Chicago for your residential building or office building, you need to choose the right one. There are several features to consider and the right access control system makes a big difference. 

No matter the industry you’re in, if you want to control access to your building, an access control system is the right choice. It can be set up to let in residents and guests living in a condo building or to let in employees working in your office. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right access control system for your specific needs.

Computer-Based vs. Standalone Access Control

A computer-based system offers the ability to control multiple doors through a wireless network. You won’t have an isolated system on each door, but one system working on all entry points within the building. If you need to control all the doors from one central location, a computer-based access control system is right for you. 

These types of systems tend to work best for medium to large buildings. They work well when you have quite a few people you need to give access and they can also be used for a smaller building, too.

Standalone access control systems use secure locks on all doors. These systems are isolated to each specific door and often work best for smaller buildings with fewer users. They are simple to set up and very user-friendly.

Wired vs. Wireless

You have the option to choose a wired or a wireless access control system. With a wired system, you will need wires to be run to each entry and to the central system running the access control system. This can provide stronger infrastructure, but can also be difficult to install in an existing building. 

With a wireless access control system, you won’t need to run any wires. They are much easier to install and offer more flexibility. You can scale a wireless system easier, too, as you grow or need to protect more entry points.

Key Cards vs. Biometrics vs. Key Codes

The way you allow access into the building is also a big decision to consider. You can use key cards, which means each person will have a card that will act as a key when they need to enter.

Another option is to use biometrics, which is more advanced. This is the most secure option and requires a part of the human body to be used, such as the face, eyes, or fingerprints to enter the building. If you need a high level of security, biometrics is the right option.

Key codes are also an option. Instead of a card, each person will need to punch in their code to enter the building. This works much like a PIN and gives user access while recording who entered based on the key code used.

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing an access control system. Make sure you choose a professional to install the system. They should also be able to help you make the right decisions about the type of access control system and the features best suited to your needs.

Smart Locks vs Traditional Locks: Which is Safer?

Smart Locks

If you are considering new locks for your home or you’re in the process of building, you’re probably torn between traditional locks and smart locks. You are used to traditional locks and that is what you’ve always known, but you want your own to have the best bells and whistles and to have the security that is being featured today and in the future.

That is why you might be considering smart locks that put the latest technology at your side. Take a closer look at both traditional locks and smart locks to see the differences and how to know which is the safer route for your home’s security.

How traditional locks work

Traditional locks were always just considered “locks,” until smart locks came onto the scene. These are any locks that are not a smart lock and come in a variety of styles. These would be anything not automated and have to be manually engaged to work. These will be locks such as deadbolts, knob locks, mortise locks, and more like these rather than one that works electronically.

Most traditional locks work by using a key to open the door and are likely going to be made using rim locks, pin tumbler locks, or mortise locks. These types of locks work when a key is inserted and allows the device to do its thing, which involves everything from spring-loaded pins to cylinders that work together.

These have always been considered secure ways to lock something like your home, office, car, or safe. Deadbolts are most commonly used on a residential lock and are known for being secure. Today you can choose deadbolts with different grades or strengths for a more secure option, such as a Grade 1 deadbolt, or you can enhance them through different methods.

The best way to ensure a traditional lock is secure is having it used correctly, installed correctly, and choosing a more durable design and grade of lock.

Smart locks

Smart locks are a different type of lock, which you are going to be relying on technology since these are engaged electronically or remotely. They are the automated version of a traditional lock and require something other than a key inserted into the lock for the user to open something.

They are usually able to be controlled by your smartphone and have the ability to integrate with your other smart devices. This may sound more secure than someone picking your locks, but being online means it’s susceptible to being hacked.

To open something with a smart lock, you’ll have to use a cryptographic key to unlock your door. This is where the lock receives instructions to open.  It has the functionality to send you notifications and alerts to your smartphone to monitor its activity, making you feel more secure as the owner. You won’t have to carry a key around unless you use a key fob, since mostly you’ll be able to use it from a device.

The security of smart locks are debatable since they can technically be hacked into, but traditional locks also have the potential to be physically tampered with too. Smart locks are still a newer concept and may still be early on in giving you the most secure lock for your home, despite giving you the ability to monitor the lock from your devices.

They will work with an existing deadbolt though which may make this a good in-between option for homeowners that don’t want to go with an all-in smart lock cylinder. You also have to consider what you would do if someone were to simply gain access to your phone if you were to lose it and it has your door unlocking abilities on it.

You may find that you prefer going with a traditional lock knowing that you can always add on or modify with more features to make them more secure while not risking hacking through an electronic option. Whichever way you go, talk to a Chicago locksmith to ask any questions you have and get the right fit for you. These are some of the considerations when deciding which type of lock you feel safer using for your property.

The Guide to Duplicating Keys

Assorted New Keys

It’s common knowledge that locksmiths can duplicate keys for anyone! Not just for anyone, but to anything as well. The question is, what type of keys may be off-limits, and what are the exact keys that are able to be duplicated?

Good question. The answer is that it depends.

Can You Duplicate a key that says, “Do Not Duplicate?

The answer depends! Keys that consist of “Do Not Duplicate” on them are placed there by lock and key manufacturers to avoid illegal duplication. Most locksmiths require authorization from the key manufacturer before duplicating. Some locksmiths will completely avoid keys marked as such since it can cause a security problem.

As mentioned earlier, locksmiths can duplicate keys that go to just about anything. Below are the keys that locksmiths can help you with.

Keys that can’t be duplicated

Keys with Electronic Elements

Keys that have electronic components inside them cannot be duplicated. For example, some car manufacturers have keys that come with a lock/unlock capability built into the actual key that opens the car door. In this case, locksmiths are not able to be of service. A unique key of that nature requires the actual dealership/car company to supply you with another copy.

Maintenance Tips for Commercial & Residential Safes

Security Safe

For businesses, safes are usually the last thing on your mind when it comes to your to-do list. You typically prioritize business activities before anything else since your business depends on it, right? The same goes for residents who may have safes in their homes as well. There are a million other tasks that can be accomplished before dealing with your safe.

Be Gentle

Sounds simple enough right? Even if you have a heavy-duty safe, constant slamming of the safe door can cause internal parts and bolts to malfunction and eventually break. Safes with a traditional locking mechanism are more susceptible to breaking because internal parts wear and tear easier.

This is why investing in modern safes such as a biometric, keypad, and safes that require electronic access cards is better for your pockets and more durable.

Ensure Locking Mechanisms are Lubricated

Constantly opening and closing your safe will naturally cause wear and tear over time. No one wants to deal with a safe that doesn’t open, even when the right combination is input. This can be troublesome especially when you have something of value that you need to get out when you’re in a time crunch.

Better yet, it can really be troublesome when you have a gun safe and need to extract something for protection. To avoid this, keep all moving parts lubricated. At a minimum, locks should have maintenance done annually.

Invest in Maintenance & Repair

Last but definitely not least, make an investment in your safe! Safes hold valuable items and the last thing you want to do is jeopardize the availability of those items. For this reason, you should invest in safe maintenance and repair.

Hire Safe Repair Professionals for the Job

Quick Key Locksmith is available 24/7 to help with all your residential and commercial locksmith services. Need safe maintenance? Safe Repair Services? We’re here to get the job done! Contact us at (877) 787-3399

How Can Many Locks Be Opened with a Single Master Key?

master key

Have you ever wondered why it is that a single master key can open any of the locks in your entire apartment complex, while the one you have will only open your apartment door, and possibly the main entrance door to the building? While this specific scenario highlights a master key setup in an apartment complex, the same situation could be true with any number of other commercial and residential lock-and-key configurations.

The answer to the ‘one key, many locks’ question lies in a very clever arrangement of the components which comprise a lock and key system – but the same principle which allows that kind of master key access is also what makes this model vulnerable to a security breach if engineered by a skillful and knowledgeable criminal. Here’s why all that is true.

How master locks work

Most locks are constructed using design concepts that are fairly uniform in the industry, the most common of which is the cylinder lock. With this kind of design, the key turns a cylinder which is attached to a cam, which then also gets turned. When the cylinder is turned in one direction, the cam or plug, causes the door to open by pulling in on the bolt. When the cylinder is turned in the opposite direction, the bolt is released by the cam and is snapped into place to prevent the door from opening.

Another common type of lock is the pin and tumbler design, which features a series of small pins, each having different lengths. These pins are separated into pairs, with each pair situated in a shaft that goes through the central cylinder cam, and on into the housing. The pairs of pins are kept in position by springs situated at the top of the shafts.

Before key insertion, the bottom end of each pair rests totally inside the plug, and the topside pin stays halfway inside the plug and halfway within the housing. The position of the upper pin is what prevents the plug from being turned because the plug is bound to the housing by the pins. The fundamental principle which makes any master key system functional is that there are extra pins in the cylinder of the lock, and these allow for several differently shaped keys to achieving a compatible alignment with all sets of pins that they extend into.

Do you need a master key system?

If you need a master key system to be installed at your home or place of business, the first call you should make is to a highly reputable commercial locksmith or residential locksmith in your area. As mentioned earlier, some master key systems are more easily breached than others, because clever criminals can reverse engineer the system of pins in the cylinder to create their own master key. An expert locksmith can discourage this kind of criminal breach of security with a professionally designed master key system.

Things Landlords Need to Know About Master Keys

master key

A Master key is one which is capable of over-riding all other locks configured in a master key system, and opening them up to gain access. No other key in that same system would have such a capability, having only the ability to open the single lock associated with that key. There are some obvious advantages to a landlord or property manager is having a master key system installed for a given building since it would allow access to all individual apartments within the building, and provide emergency access when needed. But installing a master key system also calls for some responsible control measures on the part of the holder, just because of the power it wields.

Points to remember about master keys

The worst-case scenario with a master key system would probably be to lose the master key itself or to have it found or stolen by someone with malicious intent. Someone holding that kind of power could access any apartment in a building, and be free to cause damage, remove objects at will, or even to bodily threaten occupants of the apartment – all while leaving no visible traces of entry. This means that only the most trusted individuals should be given access to a master key and that the location of a master key should only be known by someone who has the complete confidence of the landlord or property manager.

All other locks in a master key system can be completely changed out without affecting the access of the master key, and this allows a property manager to change locks after a tenant leaves without having to disrupt the master key system itself. That is just the kind of flexibility needed for large apartment complexes, where tenants routinely come and go. Security can be maintained in the master key system, without having to undergo the constant expense of changing the master key system itself.

On the negative side, an improperly designed or constructed master key can lead to the possibility of a knowledgeable criminal subverting the master key and gaining access to an entire building. This is because of the inherent nature of master key systems, in that the locks themselves are much easier to pick than individual locks, and a professional thief is often aware of this fact.

Conclusion

While the convenience aspect of master key systems is unquestioned, from the standpoint of security, high-security locks may be better options than multi-lock systems, especially in situations where entry to buildings could potentially be an issue. To install the right kind of security system for your apartment building which incorporates both convenience and security, you should contact your commercial locksmith and discuss your needs with an expert.