Archive for Door Locks

Home Automation – How Much Is Too Much?

Is it home automation or home invasion?  Before this became popular, home automation was done by a few companies that specialized in it or it was a DIY for the home owner.  In either case the home owner owned and controlled the system.

home automationToday everyone wants to get into home automation, your phone and cable company, cell phone provider, alarm system company and many others.  They all offer the same services: the ability to control things in your home through your smartphone or tablet.

I recently saw a TV commercial from my cable company showing how you could control or monitor things like your heat or air conditioner, an open door or window, garage door, what about the water, do you have a water leak in your laundry room, how about your hot water heater is it leaking, these are just a few thing that can be monitored.  What the commercial failed to say was that to monitor just the above items, all your windows and doors will have to be wired, sensors will have to be installed on your water heater and in your laundry room, you will have to get new thermostats and new fixtures for your sinks, showers and tubs.

So let’s say that you wanted this and had all the modifications made to your home, great, now you can control and monitor all those things from anywhere in the world.  I hope that this gives you peace of mind, but…let’s look at the dark side.

Whoever is providing the monitoring service for you will know what time you leave the house and what time you return.  How long did you stay in the shower this morning, what is your air or heat set to, how many times you do laundry, and how much electric do you use.  I think that you can see that for everything you have monitored that data will be stored somewhere and if it is stored it can be accessed…think NSA.

Now let’s talk about your cell phone or tablet that controls all of this home automation, are they secured, do you have internet security software installed and updated, do you have a plan ready in case you lose one.  What will you do if a bad guy steals your cell phone and now has the keys to your kingdom?

I am not saying that home automation is a bad thing, but sometimes we can take things too far too fast.  Slow down and think about what you really want.

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What is Key Control — What Does Key Control Mean to You?

In some of the past articles that I have written you have seen me mention Key Control.  What is this and why is it important to you?  We must discuss Key Control in the context of lock security Lockable Key Rings-Provides Key Controlas they go together.  So, if you have your key in your hand you have control of your key and therefore you have Key Control right?  No that’s wrong.

Physical control is only one part of Key Control, there are many others such as:

  • Is the key protected by a U.S. Patent?
  • Do you know how many keys were cut?
  • Do you know where all your keys are?
  • Can you have more keys made—if so, where?

These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself.  Let me give a practical example that drives home the Key Control point.

Let’s say that you keep your house key attached to your car key ring, or maybe you keep your house key in the glove compartment of your car.  If you valet park your car or maybe take it in for repair, you turn your keys over to someone.  There is the possibility that someone can take your house key, walk into any Big Box Store and get the key duplicated.  When you get your car back all your keys are right where you left them.  The problem is that now someone has a copy of your key and they know where you live.  Sounds bad—it is!

Super48 Key-Bak Key Reel-Provides Key Control

Retractable Key Rings

Try this test, take your house key and walk into any Big Box Store.  Ask them to make you another key.  They will take your key and duplicate it.  No questions asked.  Look at all the key blanks they have that match the profile of many keys.

So how do you protect yourself?

  • Make sure the lock and key that you purchase are protected by a U.S. Patent. Yes, this will cost more to purchase but how much is your family’s safety worth.
  • Purchase your new lock and key from someone that will register your key codes to you.
  • You should not find these key blanks at Big Box Stores.
  • You will have to show identification before having additional keys cut.
  • Account for all your keys, if 5 keys were originally cut you should know where all 5 are and who has them.

Changeable Cabinet Locks-Patented Key ControlWas this Blog meant to scare you?  Yes it was.  It was also written to make you aware that all locks and keys are not created equal.  Any security professional will tell you that “Key Control” is one of the most important parts of the security of the lock.

So now that you know what Key Control is, what are you going to do about it?  Call us at 800.657.LOCK (5625) or

RV Lock-How Many People Have Your Keys

You just purchased your new RV, Motor Home, Fifth Wheel or Camper Trailer; you take it home, put all your stuff in it and start off on your first trip.  Now let’s consider the one thing that people forget: the RV locks.  All RV’s have an entry door and storage compartments, the bigger the RV the more storage compartments. Now for the problem and how I discovered it.

RV Locks for your RVI recently went looking at motor homes.  As the salesman walked us through the lot, we walked in and out of new and used motor homes.  We opened the storage compartments and the front entry doors.  Somewhere in this process I realized that the salesman was using one key to open all the entry doors and another key to open all the storage compartments.  He carried no more than a half dozen keys.

After some research I discovered that most RV manufacturers buy their locks from just a few lock manufacturers that specialize in RV locks and locks mechanisms.  So, what should you do to make sure that your “House on Wheels” is secure?  The first and most important thing is to get the front entry door changed or call a locksmith and get it rekeyed.  Next, come up with systems to secure the storage compartments.  There could be 10 or more storage doors on some RV’s all having a RV lock.  That’s why I said earlier to come up with a system so you don’t have to carry around a dozen or more keys.

Below is a RV Lock system that you might consider.

  • Master Key the storage doors. This is where all the doors will have a separate key, but there will be one Master Key that opens all the doors.
  • Master Key the left side of the RV and the right side with different master key systems. In this case you will have to carry only two keys.
  • Keyed Alike: With this system you can have all the locks open with the same key or you can group doors, such as the left side opens with one key the right side with the other.
Cobra7 RV Lock

Cobra-7 Tubular Lock

The important thing is to come up with a RV Lock system.  I would prefer the Master Key System, this way when you take the RV in for service you could leave the keys for the storage doors that have serviceable items and keep the other securely locked.

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Medeco Locks

The Medeco Lock Company is a member of the ASSA-Abloy Security Group, a global lock and security Company. Founded in 1968, Medeco manufactures high security locks at its U.S. manufacturing facility in Salem, Virginia. Medeco makes locks such as cam locks, padlocks and door locks, sold into wholesale and retail markets.

Medeco M3 Vending Lock with KeySo what makes Medeco Locks High Security? There are a number of reasons, but the most important are their keys and keyways which are patented in the United States and Worldwide. This patented protection controls the keys. They also use different keyways in different industries, this keeps their industrial and door locks separated. Medeco uses Locking Systems International an Authorized Service Center to help them control keys and lock codes in their industrial business.

Medeco Locks are designed so that when the key is inserted into the lock it lifts and rotates the pins which line up to a shear line and sidebar. The pins on the sidebar will then line up and enter the holes in the pins allowing the lock to open. The pins are not evenly spaced which makes picking extremely difficult. This design is known as their Biaxial® Keyway. They were able to carry this concept throughout all of their lock lines, allowing for integrated locks. For example, a key for a door lock could also be used for padlocks or even cam locks. This design also greatly expanded their master keying capability.

In 2003, Medeco came out with a new design, the Medeco3 or M3. This added a new dimension called the slider. This slider must be positioned properly by the key for the lock to open. This added a third locking point and also allowed for the keys to be thicker and therefor a lot stronger. Also, this slider allows for an even larger master system by the position of the slider notch on the key.

Medeco inserts hardened roll pins in the face of their locks to increase drill resistance. Each of their locks are designed using quality materials to provide for the highest level of physical security. Most of their locks are UL listed.

Medeco XT High Security LockMedeco has recently expanded into electronic locks across their cam lock, padlock and door lock lines. They are using their NexGen design for cam locks, padlocks and SFIC locks. Their door locks are using a few different designs, the most versatile being the M3-CLIC. This allows for mechanical and electronic locks to be used in the same system using the same key to open both.

For additional Information please contact us at Locking Systems International.

Environmental Padlocks—What are They?

Environmental Padlocks are highly resistant to the environment such as rain, snow, salt, moisture and freezing.  There are many manufacturers that claim their padlocks are resistant to the environment; they even have test results to back up their claims.  To find out if a padlock is truly resistant to the environment you must look into the inner workings of the lock.

Abloy Environmental PadlocksThings to consider when purchasing environmental padlocks:

  • Is the outside finish of the padlock resistant to water, salt and moisture?
  • Is the lock rust resistant?
  • How does the inside of the padlock function?
  • Is the inside of the lock resistant to extreme environmental conditions?
  • Has independent testing been done on the complete padlock?

Abloy environmental padlocksThe above only relates to the environmental protection of the padlock, other items to consider are:

  • Is this a high security padlock?
  • Can it be keyed alike or keyed different?
  • Can it be master keyed?
  • Is the padlock able to be rekeyed?
  • Is there patent protection of the padlock and the key?
  • Is key control offered?

In my opinion and the opinion of many security experts, the Abloy line of environmental padlocks is one of the only lock manufacturers that can offer all of the above.  They have a very unique internal locking system that uses rotating discs instead of the pins and springs that most other manufacturers use.  These locking pins are held into position by the springs, when the key is inserted it moves the pins in or out of very small holes in the lock.  Severe environmental conditions can cause the springs to corrode and can cause debris to collect in the holes, all of this will cause the padlock to malfunction.  The Abloy padlock avoids this by not using pins and springs, instead when a key is inserted into the lock and turned; it rotates the inner disc to the proper position to open the padlock.  There are no small holes for debris to collect, no springs to corrode.

Abloy PadlocksWhere are environmental padlocks used?

  • Marine applications such as boats, docks, etc.
  • Applications near the ocean (protection from salt, air and spray)
  • Transportation such as trucks, shipping containers, railroad, etc.
  • Military applications
  • Gates and any outside applications

When buying a padlock for an outside location, the information above should help you decide the type of padlock that you need.  When purchasing any lock, the first thing that you should consider is how and where the lock is going to be used. Contact Locking Systems anytime for help is selection the right padlock for your needs.

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High Security Locks-Are They More Secure?

Everyone has heard the term “High Security Locks”, but what does that mean?  What makes a lock high security and are they worth the extra money that you will pay for them?  For this blog I will discuss mechanical locks.

Medeco XT High Security LockLet’s take a look at what makes a high security lock.  High Security Locks must be physically secure, this means that they must be made of high quality material such as hardened steel, stainless steel or boron steel.  They must be able to withstand physical attacks such as drilling, prying and hammer attacks and they should have either a Grade 1 or 2 ANSI rating  I discussed this in a past article.  Most will be UL rated and listed.

High security locks should have keys and keyways that provide “Key Control”.  This is usually accomplished by the manufacturer designing a keyway that is very unique and has a utility patent.  The utility patent will describe how the key and keyway function together, it will describe how the key activates the pins or discs and if there is any other mechanism in the keyway that the key will activate.  This utility patent is how the manufacturer and its distributors will control the keys.  These are not keys that you can have made in a big box store, you will have to have them made by the manufacturer or its distributors and you will have to provide some identification and the original lock codes.

Medeco M3 Key

Medeco M3 Key

Here are the major points of high security locks:

  • High measure of key control
  • Patented key, keyway and/or lock mechanism
  • Constructed of high quality materials
  • Pick resistant
  • Highly resistance to drilling, prying and hammer attacks

High Security Locks by AbloySo, are high security locks worth the price?  The answer to that question relates to what you are protecting.  If you put a padlock on an outdoor shed then you probably do not need a high security padlock.  However, if you are securing thousands of dollars of electronic equipment then yes the protection you get is worth the higher price.  For businesses, hospitals and universities or colleges, high security protection should be the normal course of action.

What about your house, do you need high security locks on your house?  Again, look at what you are protecting.  No, not your stuff, you are protecting your family, there is nothing more important to protect than that.  So ask yourself: is your family worth the extra price that you will pay?

To find out more about High Security Locks visit: Locking Systems International


Battery Operated Door Locks:

Yes, the title is correct.  You are probably asking yourself are Battery Operated Door Locks  secure, what happens if the battery goes dead?  These are all good concerns, but consider this; if they can make cars that are completely battery operated, door locks should be easy and they are.  In this blog I will discuss door locks which have battery operated electronics and use a touch pad.

Every electronic lock must have mechanical components and this is very much the case in battery operated door locks.

Battery Operated Door LockBelow are some of the features for the mechanical portion:

  • ANSI/BHMA grade 1or 2 certified lock
  • Weather resistant
  • Key override or at least some type of external secure override
  • ADA compliant door levers
  • Should fit into a standard door prep

The lock itself is usually controlled with a touch pad with numbers that look like the touch pad on a telephone.  This is where the user will enter their code to operate the mechanical portion of the lock.  Once the user code is entered and verified as a good code a solenoid or small motor is activated that moves a locking latch out of the way.  The user can now turn the knob or push the lever down to operate the lock.

There is usually one “Master User” that adds or deletes the other normal users.  There can be from 5-50 users depending on the manufacturer.

Battery Operated Door LockOther features can include the following:

  • One time use code (used for service people)
  • Lockout Mode (can lockout a particular person or user code)
  • Passage Mode (allows passage from both the inside and outside)
  • 4-15 digit user code
  • Backlit keypad
  • Audible feedback when pushing a number on the keypad

There is a visual and audible warning when the batteries are getting low; batteries are standard 9 volt or AA type.  If the user ignores these warnings the batteries will eventually die, when that happens a key override is usually available.  The key override is built into the mechanical portion of the lock and it looks like any mechanical door lock.

These types of locks can be used in either a residential or commercial environment.  The grade 1 type locks will usually be used for commercial buildings and the grade 2 for residential.  For a better understanding of the differences between grade 1 and 2 you can search for a previous article that goes in detail: “Lock Grades and Functions”

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SFIC Lock Cores for Door locks

SFIC stands for “Small Format Interchangeable Core”.  These SFIC lock cores go into special “Lock Sets” that are designed to accept all SFIC locks cores built to the SFIC standard.  The lock set is the lever lock, knob lock or deadbolt lock found on most doors.  The SFIC lock core is interchangeable; meaning that cores from different manufacturers can fit the same lock set.   The SFIC Lock Core is installed or removed from the lock set by using a “Control Key”. So “Re-Keying a lock is a simple as changing the SFIC lock core no locksmith needed. In this article I will discuss the SFIC lock core and not the lock set.  I will give examples of some of the most common cores and their highlights.

Arrow SFIC Lock Core

Arrow SFIC Lock CoreThe Arrow SFIC lock core is manufactured to give maximum flexibility and keying options.  This core is available in either 6 or 7 pin designs.  They are available in either the Arrow restricted keyways or competitive keyways such as Best. The lock core is constructed out of solid brass with a reinforced sleeve design.  The faceplate is available in two of the most popular finishes US26D or US4.

  • Available in competitive keyways such as Best®.
  • Manufactured of solid brass.
  • Available in either 6 0r 7 pin format.
  • Restricted Arrow keys available.
  • Faceplate available in either US26D or US4.

Keymark x4 Lock Core

Medeco X4 SFICThe Keymark x4 is a patented lock core that provides key control and  large master systems capabilities.  This lock core is available in either 6 or 7 pin formats.  Fits all standard SFIC lock sets and is available in 13 architectural finishes.  The Keymark x4 tilizes the standard A2 pinning system with a bitted slider bar for maximum master keying capabilities.  All keys carry a lifetime warranty against breakage.

  • Patented SFIC lock core.
  • Maximum master keying capabilities.
  • Available in either 6 or 7 pin formats.
  • Available in 13 architectural finishes.
  • Lifetime warranty on keys.

NexGen XT Lock Core

Electronic SFIC Locks for Retail SecurityThe NexGen XT is an electronic SFIC replacement for the traditional mechanical SFIC lock cores.  Constructed with a stainless steel shell it is designed to fit standard SFIC lock sets.  The NexGen does not need any hard wiring, as all power to operate the lock is supplied by the rechargeable key.  All programming is done at the key and there are web and mobile options available.  Software can provide access control and audit capabilities.

  • Electronic SFIC Lock Core.
  • All power supplied by the rechargeable key.
  • Programming done at the key.
  • Optional web and mobile programming available.
  • Stainless steel shell.

The SFIC Locks will give the end user the maximum in convenience, security and key control depending on the choice of the SFIC lock core. For additional information go to

Personal Security—What Kind Of Security Is This?

Personal security is at its very core being aware of where you are and what is around you. For example, you can have the best locks in the world locking the door to your house, but if YOU don’t actually lock them your personal safety is at Personal Secuity-Lock you Doorsrisk. So to increase your personal security you should do everything you can to reduce your risk profile.

There are many examples of how to reduce your risk profile:

  • When getting gas do not leave your keys in the car. Have your cell phone and your purse with you and close the door. At night, always stop at stations that are well-lighted with a lot of traffic.
  • Walking or jogging should be in a safe place that you are familiar with. You should always bring your cell phone with you and have an awareness of where you are.
  • When parking your car remember to lock it and to put things of value such as your GPS, laptop or tablet in the trunk or some place that is not visible.
  • Personal Security at Shopping CenterYou should put your purse across your shoulder and if walking along a street the purse should not be on the street side. Your wallet should be in the front pocket of your pants not the back pocket.
  • When leaving your house you should have a routine of checking all the doors to make sure that the locks are locked including the deadbolt lock. If you have an alarm system, and you should, set it.
  • If you have a garage door, it should have an automatic garage door opener, so when you leave and return to your house you do not have to get out of your car, especially at night.
  • When driving keep the doors locked. If you break down use your cell phone to call for help, stay in your car until help arrives, especially at night.

Personal Security when TravelingWhen travelling, especially out of the United States, you should ramp up all of your security measures and even add some additional ones. I will discuss these in another blog.

These are just are a few examples of how to reduce your risk profile and increase your personal safety.

I think that awareness equals security. Be aware of your surroundings and what and who is around you. This is easy to do: you just have to change your daily habits and incorporate these into your everyday life.

I shouldn’t even be writing this blog, but this is the world that we live in today!

For additional information for to Locking Systems International.

Gas Pump Security-Skimming

If you drive a vehicle your credit or debit card is at risk by Skimming. What can you do and what are the gas pump operators and manufacturers doing to prevent and stop skimming? Skimming is where the bad guys will put a device on the gas pump that will intercept your card number. I will go into where these skimmers are placed.

Gas Pump Security-Prevent SkimmingWhat can you do to prevent skimming:

  • The most important thing you can do is Do Not Use Debit Cards. Once your debit card number is stolen the bad guys can empty your bank accounts. The banks say you are protected, but until they investigate you have no money in your bank account.
  • Before using a gas pump look at it, do you see anything attached to it that looks like it doesn’t belong there?
  • Are all the pump access doors securely locked?
  • Does the store attendant have clear line of sight to the pumps?
  • Are there surveillance cameras pointed at the pumps?

If you feel uncomfortable at a gas station or you find one of the above items, then leave and find another station, they are on every corner.

The gas pump operators are stepping up to try and prevent skimming by working with a specialty security company to come up with devices that stop this practice. The major point of attack are the card readers, this is where the skimming devices are placed.

Card reader Covers-Prevent SkimmingBelow are some of the steps that gas pump operators are taking to prevent Skimming:

  • Replacing the gas pump locks with stronger and more secure locks, some operators are going with high security cam locks and padlocks.
  • Installing a specially designed box that encases the card reader to prevent access to it. This card reader security box is locked with a special lock that has patented protection on the lock and keys.
  • Installing a special cover, secured by security screws over the gas pump control board.
  • Installing a special security box around the pulser, this device is what counts the gallons of gas dispensed.
  • The card reader manufacturers are also increasing the security of the reader itself.

Many gas stations are requiring that you input the zip code that matches the credit card. When credit cards with a chip imbedded becomes mainstream many credit and debit card problems will go away.

For additional information on Gas Pump Security visit Locking Systems International.