Keyed vs. Keyless Locks: Which provide better security?

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Locking our doors is one of the first and most effective forms of security, including in the workplace. To protect their employees and assets, companies can choose from either mechanical (keyed) locks or electronic systems. But does one provide better security over the other?

It could be dangerous to assume that complete security is achievable in today’s world. Instead, companies are urged to be prepared. “Risks always exist,” said Allegion Futurist Rob Martens. ”Locks get picked. Software gets hacked. So the question is not if a security breach will happen, but when.”

Because breaches are inevitable, companies should focus on response and recovery instead of searching for a risk-free product. “Clients need to know you’re prepared to respond to threats and minimize your risk and exposure,” said Martens.

There are some standard remedies that companies can use in the event of a breach. If your key configuration is compromised, re-key and replace the cylinder. A worst-case scenario would involve replacing every lock. If your digital security is hacked, revoke user access and establish new rights immediately. This is a more efficient method, as it doesn’t require you to assess each individual lock. Digital locks also act as better “reporting devices.” They allow users to monitor and access locks and get status updates from one convenient source.

“Having the flexibility to respond and change is what really affects the level of security,” said Martens.

It Starts With a Strong Lock

Whether it’s mechanical or digital, the most important feature of every lock is its strength. Mechanical and digital locks are both built with the best physical security practices in mind. Digital locks are “locks first – with some digital components added for enhanced security or convenience,” said Martens. “When you choose a digital lock from a manufacturer like Schlage, you can be assured it includes all the basic features you would expect from a [standard] lock.”

Digital systems also provide certain advantages. “The ability to adapt, respond and recover is much more heightened with electronic locks,” said Martens.

It's a Team Effort

Security is ultimately not an issue of digital versus physical. They could – and should – work in tandem. Today’s facility owners should adopt a holistic view of their security operations, especially with telecommuting and remote work arrangements becoming more common. Exterior and interior building access should complement IT and network infrastructure to provide tighter security.


The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Allegion’s. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.


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