Access Control - Restricted Keys Guide

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 15, 2018

Not all doors, even in larger facilities, can justify using electronic access control. And even for doors that do have electronic access control, many often need to work with mechanical locks.

However, most keys can be easily copied. How do you improve their security?

Restricted or proprietary keys are often overlooked but can be effective in improving security and access control.

Keyways are the part of the lock a key is inserted for use, and the shape of the keyway and the key must match. (For a general guide, see our: Lock Keyways For Access Control Guide.) Restricted keyways are locks and keys fabricated with profiles that are uncommon or proprietary, controlled by the manufacturer and not available for general use.

So for substantial mechanical key systems, like Master Keyed facilities, Restricted Keyways is a complimentary safeguard to electronic access to protect those doors against unauthorized entry from easily duplicated keys or by Bump Keys.

Inside, we explain:

  • Keyway profile variations
  • Why 'Do Not Duplicate' statements are useless
  • Differences between Unrestricted vs Restricted vs Proprietary
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of these approaches
  • Common providers and pricing

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Common *******

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Common *********

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Comments (8)

Electronic access control uses a similar concept to this one: "Facility Codes"

In general, the credential must have the right facility code in order to be approved for scanning by the reader.

In the same way as a key may not fit into a lock because of keyway mismatch, the credential cannot be read because the code doesn't match.

Considering the uselessness of DND warnings, is there any value in using high tech to manage the low? By restricting or at least tracking token usage by using devices like these?

Yes, if you are using keys which are not possible to copy (restricted or proprietary).

Seems like more trouble than it's worth since all but the most expensive locks can be picked relatively quickly. And the existence of this guy: http://www.qtactical.com/easy-entrie-key-machine/

Important doors simply shouldn't be left unmonitored.

Apparently now you can make bump keys for proprietery locks just by taking a picture of the keyhole.

Many lock makers carefully trademark or patent their key blank designs and prevent them from being sold to anyone outside a small group of verified customers. But with the advent of 3D printing, those restrictions can’t stop lockpickers from 3D printing their own blanks and filing them into bump keys

Most "high security" Kennedy's have a 3D element that is not seen from the 2D profile. For Schlage there is a unique side bar profile. With Medeco it's cut angles per pin.

We are a large Medeco dealer and you can buy cylinders for a fraction of what you descirbe (I/C core, mortise, etc.) and you can retrofit the cylinders into most 3rd party hardware. I don't see how you came up with those dollar amounts? We can install cylinders in an entire office with a lot of keys for that. Of course if you want the best lock you can get in a truly restricted & patented keyway then it is going to cost more but not by a large margin. Each dealer has their own keyway which matches their locks. You have to go to your dealer to get any keys. It's not like you are locking the customer into coming to you and only you so you can gouge them all along the way. They buy into the system knowing their keys are secure and that is why they do it.

As for the time it takes for a key, anybody can walk in our store who has permissions to have keys cut and have them cut on the spot OR pay a delivery fee and have them dropped off within 24 hours or so. Others may have longer lead times but it doesn't take any longer than cutting a regular key. Obviously you cant walk into Home Depot and have it cut. The key machines are specialized for the patented keyway.

Also there is a difference between a restricted keyway and a restricted high security cylinder. Restricted is just that it doesn't say anything about being pick or drill resistant. High security add another level. They may have angled cuts and specially constructed pins to prevent this. I personally have never seen anybody pick a high security Medeco or Mul-T-lock cylinder. Hardware like this is just in a different class than anything else and you are paying a premium for the technology and advanced construction of this hardware. If you took apart your regular Schlage lock/cylinder vs. a high security one there is no comparison.

Physical security will never go away. Cameras and access control don't matter if I can pick a lock or physically defeat a lock in seconds. The alarm goes off and the cameras record my mask and then you are on your way with what you came for.

Many times there is no damage or break in whatsoever since the person came right in with a key that may have been duplicated or stolen since there are so many copies around.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a high security restricted system.

My budget for locks jumped a ton once I showed in hand how quick it is to zip a lock, with that, so did my budget for lock bypass tools and tooling to make prototypes for bypasses. I cant tell you how many cores I took a part that had master wafers in locks that shouldn't of ever had them.

And the locksmith who likes to keep the code cuts on hand incase "you lose your keys" while driving their branded trucks to your office.

All it takes is their truck to get broken in till your key is out there with you address attached to it.

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