Key Management in the Age of Cybersecurity Threats

cybersecurityWith an increasing number of businesses integrating the internet into daily practices, it’s important that we all pay closer attention to the ongoing risk of cybersecurity threats. Modern key management systems are no exception. While the ability to pull reports instantly online via mobile devices makes our buildings and communities safer overall, the fact remains that any online connectivity comes with some risk of hacking. What can you do to keep your data and online activities safe in an age of ongoing cybersecurity threats?

Secure Your System

Regardless of how your company’s online network is configured, make sure it’s running on a secure system. Use firewalls and encrypting to secure your internet connections and your servers. If you use WiFi, make sure it’s hidden and protected by a strong password — and change the password frequently. Only grant network access to authorized personnel.

Require Strong Passwords for Employee Logins

Employees who log into the system should each have an individual login with a strong password that is difficult to guess. Employees should also be prompted to change passwords regularly.

Use Caution with Remote Access

If you log into your company’s network offsite using a smartphone or other mobile device, remember that you aren’t necessarily accessing the system using a secure server. Don’t log in using public WiFi, for example — or if you do, log in using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide from hackers.

Scan for Viruses, Spyware and Malware

You should have a strong antivirus, anti-spyware program in place to guard your system, and make sure it receives the latest updates to make sure newer viruses can be detected and eradicated from the system.

Run Updates on All Software

It’s a pain to keep up with software updates, but when developers send these to you, they’re usually dealing with newly discovered cybersecurity threats. Always keep operating systems and other software up to date.

Back Up Your System

You should be running full backups regularly of your entire system, from shared drives to individual computers. That way, if a hacker crashes your system, you won’t lose data and you can restore at least most of your functionality.

Use Multi-Step Logins Whenever Possible

You don’t want to spend all day logging in, but in truth, the more steps to the login process, the safer it is. With HandyTrac key control, for example, our systems are designed for employees accessing key boxes to take several steps to verify their identity. Some units even include biometric (fingerprint) identification which provides excellent security against intruders and hackers.

To learn more about our secure key control systems, contact HandyTrac today!

How to Properly Manage University Campus and Student Housing Keys

student housing key controlIn a perfect world, a college or university campus should be a safe space. It’s a place for hungry and curious minds to learn and live peacefully. The reality, however, is when you have large groups of people moving about in a large number of buildings, each with hundreds of rooms, this creates thousands of potential vulnerability points — access points for criminals to steal or otherwise do harm. How do you properly manage university campus keys in a way that minimizes risk and helps keep people, and their belongings, safe?

Restrict Key Access

When you think of every door as an access point, you realize that your campus keys are either your best tool for security or your greatest point of risk. How you manage those keys determines which is which. Keys, whether mechanical or electronic, should always be secured and issued to staff only as needed. Installing a key control system can help this process. This way, only authorized staff can access lock boxes by use of their IDs (or even fingerprints), and keys can be checked out as needed and returned when the staff is finished. For electronic key systems, you can take this a step further by programming the system to allow staff access only to their authorized areas on campus.

Track Your Keys

Every key that gets misplaced becomes a security liability, and with thousands of keys roaming around campus, they are remarkably easy to misplace. Key control systems not only can restrict access to authorized staff — they also create a documented audit trail so can track which keys are checked out to whom, and for how long. The system can also alert you of unusual patterns or behaviors. You’ll know immediately if a key goes missing, and you’ll know who had the key last.

Implement Robust Security Measures for Your Keys

On large campuses, even with strong vetting and background checks in place, sometimes bad guys slip through the cracks. While restricting keys to authorized campus staff, how do you protect against violations from within the ranks? Answer: You create additional security features in your key tracking system, create multi-step security protocols for people accessing keys, keep keys barcoded and placed in randomized positions within the box, and pull reports frequently so you can quickly detect suspicious activity.

If you’re serious about properly managing your campus keys, HandyTrac can provide a secure key control system perfect for your organization’s needs. To learn more, contact us today!

How Electronic Key Control Systems Boost Community Security

electronic key control systemsCommunity security should be a top priority for any property manager. Multifamily, student and military housing communities have hundreds, sometimes thousands of residents to protect at a time, and criminals could target any community with perceived weaknesses. This is why an important aspect of a property’s security plan should be protecting unit keys.

When casing a community, criminals will first consider the easiest way of gaining access to the units: using the key. Keys provide crooks with full access to private units, allowing them to steal from unsuspecting residents, or worse.

A thief — and perhaps some accomplices — can easily case a multifamily property simply by posing as a prospective resident. They will take note of the key control system and ask themselves:

– Where are the keys stored? An open pegboard is much easier to access than a locked pegboard. An electronic key control system is even more difficult maybe impossible — for criminals to thwart.
– How is the staff held accountable for keys? Do they have to sign out a key or enter a PIN to get access?
– If a key goes missing, how long would it take the staff or management to figure this out? (How much time would the criminal have before the missing key was noticed?)
– Is the key management system being used correctly, or are staff members bypassing key policy?
– How is the spare key handled? Is the filing cabinet locked? Who has access?

A large part of security is personnel training. Leasing agents should be trained always to accompany customers on property walks. Keys should never be left in the door when touring a unit. If all staff members know they are accountable for the keys in their possession, they will be extra careful about protecting and returning keys.

Criminals posing as prospective residents may try to steal the key after a unit tour. At a property with an electronic key control system, leasing agents will be more alert to this tactic. The key is signed out in their own name (PIN or Biometric reading). They know they need to return the key after the unit tour. The last thing they want to hear is their name associated with a missing key.

Leasing agents, maintenance personnel, and other authorized staff members need quick, reliable access to the keys. An unlocked pegboard is a tempting solution, but it is also tempting to thieves. The need for quick access needs to be weighed against the need to keep control of the keys. Missing keys create chaos for everyone. Lost keys mean lost property and lost residents.

Electronic key control systems are an important part of any multifamily community’s security plan. Each staff member is held accountable for the keys they have checked out, the system is tamper-proof and locked, and management can run a live key report at any time. This discourages criminals, who will likely move on to an easier mark.

About HandyTrac

For over 30 years HandyTrac has been the low-cost leader in multifamily and military housing key control; managing keys for more than 3,000,000 apartment homes throughout the country. Our cloud based systems offer instant access to archived reporting and provide the ability to manage your communities with a single login through your computer or smart phone.

Contact HandyTrac today to learn more about our electronic key control systems.

HandyTrac Online Customer Site – New Features

HandyTrac is pleased to announce a number of updates to the HandyTrac Online Customer Site!

These new features are a result of customer feedback, and our commitment to provide a seamless user experience for all property managers.

Employees page, redesigned

handytrac key control updates

The Active Employees page has been completely redesigned to make it easier to manage employees in the system. All active employees are now visible and can be edited at the same time. To make editing employees even easier for customers with Biometric and Touch systems, typing in a badge and PIN is no longer necessary as the system will automatically create this information when the employee name is entered.

Empty Hook Report

handytrac key control updates

The Empty Hook Report allows users to quickly see a list of the hooks in the system that should not have keys on them. This is helpful during key audits or when you need to quickly check to see if keys are being pulled and returned to their correct locations. It is also a quick way to see if there are any keys missing from the system.

Custom email reports

handytrac key control updates

Email reports allow you to create a completely custom report to be emailed to you daily. If you want to keep a close eye on certain activity codes or certain units, you can now have this information automatically emailed to you without needing to log in to the HandyTrac site. Multiple custom reports can be created for a variety of criteria.

Key Tag Search Report

handytrac key control updates

The Key Tag Search Report allows you to quickly search all of your transactions for a key tag number. If you have a key that will no longer scan in the system, you can search for that tag number and see if it ever was in the system, and if so, to what unit the key belonged and when it was edited out of the system.

Unit List Report

handytrac key control updates

The Unit List Report gives you a list of all of the units in the system without sensitive information such as tag numbers and hook locations. We recommend having this report near the HandyTrac system as a quick reference of unit names to make pulling a key quicker and less error prone for employees that do not often use the system and may be unfamiliar with the naming scheme of the units in the system.

Export key map to Excel

handytrac key control updates

The key map can now be easily exported to excel for offline viewing as well as smartphone access for emergency situations.

Resident Email Notifications

handytrac key control updates

For added peace of mind, property managers can now set resident email notifications. Once set, residents will receive a notification when their key is pulled or returned.

Thank you for your continued support of HandyTrac. If you have questions about the updates, or would like to submit feedback, please send us a message at

4 Tips for Preventing Key Loss

key lossIn any large property, whether it be a factory, military base, school or multifamily community, the danger of lost keys is an ongoing concern. Unfortunately, key loss happens all the time, usually due to poor organization, human error or both. Every time it happens, your building becomes more vulnerable. When high security is required, locks must be changed whenever a key turns up missing — a costly prospect. Electronic card keys can mitigate this risk because they can be programmed to expire, but few management companies have the money to transition all doors and locks to card keys. So how can you prevent key loss, or at least make the risk more manageable? Here are four tips to help out:

1. Set up an established protocol

One of the best ways to keep keys from wandering off is to have an established system in place for managing them. If you and your staff always know where the keys are kept and how to check them in and out, the rate of key loss is reduced significantly, simply because you always know where the keys are supposed to be.

2. Implement a tracking system

Of course, having a key check-in/check-out system is only part of the solution here. The other piece is to have a tracking system in place — an auditing system by which you document who has which keys, for what purpose, when they checked them out, when the keys are due back, and when they actually get checked in. This way, you can quickly identify anomalies in the patterns, and if a key does go missing, you’ll always know who had it last and can trace it back to the point at which it was dropped.

3. Store keys securely

When keys are not in use, they should themselves be kept locked in a safe place. The worst type of key loss is the one in which keys are left out and “lifted” by someone who has no business with them. Keep keys safe, and restrict access so only authorized people can get to them.

4. Train your staff

Whatever protocol you set in place for key management, make sure your entire team is trained in how to access keys, how to check them out and in, and how to carry the keys when they have them. The more consistently the protocol is practiced, the easier it is to detect unusual behaviors — and of course, the fewer keys are lost due to oversight or negligence.

There’s only so much you can do to offset human error, and even with the best systems in place, you might still lose a key from time to time. However, these tips can go a long way toward preventing key loss or reducing the occurrences of it. For more information on effective key control, contact HandyTrac today.

Finding an Electronic Key Control System for Every Budget

HandyTrac, the leader in electronic key control solutions for multifamily, student and military housing has been developing and innovating key control systems for more than two decades.

Unlike physical (paper and ledger) key control systems — which can be lost, damaged, subverted or stolen — HandyTrac’s cloud-based systems are both maximally secured and immediately accessible to more than one individual at a time. This security is delivered through automated management which allows key access only by authorized users with preset PIN codes, access cards, or biometrics, depending on the model. Keys taken out of the cabinet are instantly reported and reports are available in a number of formats which may be accessed online, printed, or delivered to a PC.

electronic key controlThe HandyTrac Classic

Accessed using a badge or pin, the HandyTrac Classic is the exemplar among electronic key control systems. Connected to the Internet, this HandyTrac model delivers dependable, fully automated backup of activity at an eminently affordable price.

The Classic model is easy to use — making employee training a breeze. Eminently secure thanks to its 18-gauge steel key cabinet, the HandyTrac Classic operates using coded keys that are arbitrarily rotated when returned, making them completely untrackable.

Data is stored in the cloud, and further secured thanks to a hierarchical system which delivers reports for more than one location with a single login. Long-term records are archived to make the system more streamlined, and the Classic is available in single and double cabinet options.

electronic key controlThe HandyTrac Biometric

The HandyTrac Biometric delivers all the features of the Classic, but adds biometric fingerprint identification to restrict access to the key cabinet to authorized employees.

This biometric feature uses an optical fingerprint sensor integral to the system. The HandyTrac Biometric version with Ethernet goes one step further, by providing a built-in server test with pass/failed diagnostic capability. In addition, the Biometric model’s fingerprint identity system is fully integrated, which makes data and key retrieval fast and flawless.

Available in single and double cabinet options.

electronic key controlThe HandyTrac Touch

HandyTrac’s Touch model delivers the gold standard in flexibility, reporting, and security. A simple touch provides instant reports, whether the user is looking to check the reason for a particular key withdrawal, or merely the last time the key for a particular unit/room was withdrawn.

Offering the largest display in a single unit, the Touch allows users to monitor keys out in relation to work orders. It also provides visual screen codes which eliminate much of the typing mistakes of older systems, while also facilitating work order flow.

In terms of sophistication, the HandyTrac Touch integrates Android’s One Touch Building Pull, which lists units for each building to make pulling multiple keys even easier, and all without an extra inch of desk or wall space.

The Touch also offers an integral Wi-Fi connection, which, along with dedicated hardware and software, makes accessing all the HandyTrac cabinets in your system even easier. Most important, the Touch offers the key-control paradigm in terms of security, reporting, and flexibility in a system that permits review of individual work orders with a single touch.

Available in single and double cabinet options.

Electronic key control systems you and your residents can trust

HandyTrac’s key management system can be interfaced with an overall building security system, providing layers of safety and defensibility for multifamily, student and military housing.

Contact us today to learn more about our three HandyTrac models.

Signs That Your Key Control System is Outdated

key control systemOverseeing a larger complex or multifamily dwelling naturally requires some form of key inventory and control. Your current process may have served you well for a time, but when is it time for an update? How can you tell if your key control system is outdated? Here are some key indicators that you may need an upgrade.

You haven’t updated your key control system in several years.

If you aren’t detecting any issues with your current system, why would you need an upgrade? Simple: The bad guys get wise over time. The longer you keep the same protocols in place, the more likely it is that a criminal or intruder can find a workaround. (Even computerized systems are susceptible to hacking without regular updates.) Over the past several years, technological advances have made key control much more secure and more difficult to hack. If you’re not availing yourself of these technologies, you may be leaving your property vulnerable to crimes.

Your business is growing and expanding.

Business growth is a good thing, but times of expansion can also be times of vulnerability — not just because of the temporary chaos, but also because there is more to manage. Your current key control protocols were designed not just around security, but around size. If you’re adding a new building or wing, or if you’re expanding to multiple locations, your key control system should be upgraded to accommodate new demands for tracking and maintenance.

You are already experiencing key control failures.

If instances of misplaced keys, faulty fobs, or equipment breakdowns are on the rise — or, heaven forbid, if you’ve already experienced one or more security breaches — your current key system is obviously not keeping up. Like anything else, patches and fixes only carry you for so long. The only way to restore security is to upgrade.

Your access to monitoring and tracking is limited.

Are you still doing check-in/check-out tracking on paper? Do you have to hunt through file cabinets to find a printed report of who had keys out on Saturday the 12th? If so, your security is weak. Here in the 21st century, criminals work fast, and you have to keep up with them. Modern key control systems employ WiFi and mobile technology that allow you to pull reports instantly and monitor/track through your mobile devices.

If you’ve determined that your key control system is outdated, HandyTrac is here to help. Our state-of-the-art key control systems take the headache out of key tracking and monitoring with multiple layers of protection, instant reporting and more. To learn more, contact us today!

Does Your Property Have a Strong Key Control Policy?

For larger building complexes and multifamily communities, you might be surprised to learn that most security threats occur from within. Predators know how to search for weaknesses and vulnerabilities and they know how to exploit them once they find them. A large number of break-ins don’t include brute force — they occur because the thief was able to obtain a key. In other words, your keys are the weakest link in your security chain. This is why having a strong key control policy is critical to the overall security of your facility.

How Keys Get into the Wrong Hands

key control policyThe vast majority of the time, keys get into the hands of bad guys for one of three reasons:

1. Lack of tracking

The building management has no clear-cut system for knowing where keys are or who has them, at any given time.

2. Lack of accountability

There is no system for tracking when keys are checked in and out, or by whom (or the system leaves much room for error).

3. Easy access

People can obtain keys far too easily, without much in the way of oversight. If one or more of these areas is weak, your key control policy is not strong enough to ward off breaches and intrusions. It’s as simple as that.

Elements of a Strong Key Control Policy

Concerned that your property has too much fluidity with its key control? Here are some ways you can strengthen your key policies and restrict access:

1. Keep the keys secure

Keys should be kept in a strong, tamper-proof, locked cabinet that can only be unlocked through a series of protocols.

2. Implement multi-step access

Make sure your employees go through several steps before a key is issued to them. For example, the employee may need to scan a badge and input a PIN number before the box opens. Better yet, implement a biometric system that reads fingerprints.

3. Enforce accountability

Employees should input which key(s) they are taking, at what time, and for what purpose — and they should check keys back in by a similar process.

4. Enforce restricted access points

For enhanced security, certain employees should only access certain keys for certain parts of the building or complex. They may only be allowed to check out specific physical keys, or their card keys may be coded for access to certain rooms.

5. Automate scheduling

Your system should be programmed so that certain employees may only receive key access at certain times of day. If an employee tries to obtain a key outside their designated hours, the box will not open.

6. Streamline your reporting

Management should be able to view reports at any given time that can show how many keys are out, who has them, which buildings/rooms have been accessed and at what time. This type of monitoring may be crucial to identifying potential violations because unusual activity can be identified easily.

7. Establish an audit trail

Reports should be backed up offsite to prevent any attempts to manipulate the data.

8. Train employees with a consistent protocol

Every employee should be properly trained in the procedure for obtaining and returning keys, and check-out/check-in occurs exactly the same way every time.

Advantages of a Strong Key Control Policy

Making improvements to your key control policy can do the following:

● Help you quickly identify and correct violations for heightened security

● Help you stop an intrusion before it starts

● Help you prevent an intrusion from happening in the first place

● Help you pinpoint suspicious activity in the unlikely event of a break-in

● Give you and your tenants greater peace of mind

Because your keys provide access, they are your greatest potential vulnerability, and therefore, must be accompanied by the highest levels of security and oversight.

HandyTrac offers a variety of key control solutions designed to enhance and implement your company’s key control policy, making it easy to monitor, track and secure your keys. To learn more, contact us here.

Why Your Building Security Package Should Include a Key Control System

building securityIf you’re working to improve safety and security in your building or multifamily property, be careful not to overlook the most vulnerable point of potential breaches: the door. Any building security package that doesn’t include some sort of key control system is leaving at least one gaping hole in their net.

A property can have the most high-tech cameras, the most robust gate security, the strongest locks, and the most diligent staff; if the keys to the property aren’t properly inventoried, monitored and regulated, it’s the same as leaving the front door open. The smart bad guys know the best way to break in is not by hacking your security systems, picking your locks or using brute force — it’s by getting a key. This is why any building management team serious about protecting its facility or tenants should include key control in their security portfolio.

Why is key control one of the most critical elements of your security? Here are just a few reasons.

One-third of burglaries aren’t forced entry.

According to statistics reported by Safewise, over one-third of home burglars simply walk through the front door — and this statistic only covers residential theft. In other words, a large portion of criminals look for alternative points of entry than sheer force, and they’ll gladly choose unlocking a door over breaking it down. While security systems provide an excellent deterrent, if you aren’t controlling your keys, you’re effectively only covering 66 percent of your total potential vulnerability.

Your keys are your weakest link.

The keys to your facility or complex are small yet powerful because they are the tools that provide access to every room and every unit. And yet, they also constitute the weak link in your security chain for two reasons: 1) They are small, and therefore easy to hide, misplace or copy; and 2) There are so many of them roaming around. It’s not feasible to try to shore up this vulnerability by reducing the number of keys — your staff needs those keys to perform their functions — so the next best way to shore up this weakness is to have a system that controls access to the keys and gives an account for where every key is at any given time.

You could be held liable if an incident occurs.

This is particularly true if you are overseeing a building or property with multiple residents or commercial tenants. Management is responsible for performing due diligence to keep the property safe from intruders and criminals. If a crime occurs on the premises and the investigation concludes the point of entry came from a mismanaged key, you may be held legally responsible on the grounds of negligence.

A proper key control system saves you money over time. When keys aren’t properly inventoried and monitored, a lost key becomes an expensive prospect. Changing the locks throughout the facility can be quite costly, especially if the lost key provides widespread access. By comparison, spending a few extra dollars of your security budget on a key control system means your keys remain relevant for longer, and locks have to be changed far less frequently.

With greater accountability, infractions are easier to spot.

A good key control system includes tracking and reporting capabilities. This allows management to always have an eye on who has keys out, to which rooms/units, and for what reasons. This means anomalies and irregularity become easier to identify. If a violation occurs, you’ll be able to see where it occurred and who was involved — and if necessary, so will law enforcement.

You can prevent crimes.

Of course, one of the best things about key control is the crimes that won’t happen. Any employee who comes on staff with bad intentions will understand immediately that every key is tracked and accounted for — that he/she will be immediately identified for misuse. Many potential crimes are halted before they start.

Sometimes the smallest details become our worst enemies. Why spend thousands of dollars improving your security package only to leave your greatest area of vulnerability uncovered?

HandyTrac offers a selection of state-of-the-art key control systems that are both reliable and affordable. Contact us by email or phone at 1-800-665-9994 to see what we can do for you.

How to Select a Secure Key Control System

So, you’ve decided that you need to install a secure key control system for your property, but you’re unsure of what type of system you need, what features would help you, or which provider will offer the highest quality service. How do you select a key control system that’s right for you? Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.

secure key controlLook for Multiple Layers of Secured Access

These days, a truly secure system means more than just keeping keys under lock and key, or even keeping a record of check in/check out. It also means your employees should have to move through several steps in order even to access the keys. For example, the employee might need to type in a PIN code after scanning his/her badge at the key console to prevent the possibility of access using a stolen badge. The employee should also have to designate which key is being pulled with a reason code to specify why the key is needed. In addition, your secure system should also provide immediate alerts via text or email to management in the event that proper protocol is not followed.

Look for Additional Security Features

Security shouldn’t end once the key box is opened. A good system also includes security enhancements to make sure key usage can’t be abused. For example, anonymous barcode tags on the keys can ensure an employee can’t identify one key from the other (the console can tell the employee which key to take). Another good feature is random key rotation, in which keys are never returned to the same hook from where they were pulled. (Again, the console can track where the keys are placed.)

Look for Simple, Accurate Reporting Capabilities

One benefit of installing a computerized secure key control system is that the computer can track your entire key inventory and instantly create detailed reports of key activity. Look for a system that can build reports based on functional activity, activity by building unit, activity by employee, etc.

Look at the Warranty and Support

No matter how secure the key control system is designed to be, it’s not actually secure if it breaks down, nor if you don’t receive the proper training and support in using it. Make sure your provider offers a solid warranty, as well a solid system for training you and your employees in proper use.

HandyTrac offers a selection of highly secure key control systems that are easy to use, offer plenty of extra security features and are backed by a stellar warranty and technical support. To learn more, give us a call at 1-800-665-9994, or send us an email at