Having a master key system in place allows landlords and business owners to keep access to all parts of properties that are under their operation.

These are situations when quick access to many different locks and doors might be needed, and having a master key system in place saves the frustration and confusion that can be associated with having one key for each lock. This method is simpler and saves precious time when emergencies occur.

Looking at a larger picture of a building that is comprised of over a thousand doors, without the use of a master key, each door would need its own key.

The master key gives quick access to all of them. It’s like having all the locks rekeyed to match an additional special key that can open all of them. This is done by a technician arranging the pins in the cylinders of the locks, allowing the doors to be unlocked with the master key.

Who Can Benefit from a Master Key System?

Master key systems are of great use to many different establishments.

A few examples of these are banks, schools, hospitals, office buildings, warehouses, apartment complexes and government properties.

In short, any facility that has more than one door that has locking access could benefit from the use of a master key system.

When a commercial locksmith technician comes to install a master key system, the locks on site will either be rekeyed to match the one master key, or a single key will be crafted to match the locks on the property.

This will all be dependent on which locks brand the establishment is currently using and if it is possible to do either without doing a lock change to every door.

What are the Benefits?

Master key systems are easy to use, and access to the doors is closely controlled. Instead of keeping possibly thousands of keys secure, there is just a single one. This also eliminates the need to a large key ring or key cabinet.

Having a key cabinet can be a sign to potential intruders that access to all units is readily available, as it is impossible to take a key cabinet everywhere you go, as a landlord or business owner. It is more convenient to keep a single key secure.

Organization is simple, and the level of security is the same, without the need to keep track of a large collection of keys. Having one or possibly two master keys available alleviates the worry of keeping track of tens or even hundreds of keys and their spares.

From a tenant’s point of view, having a landlord or business owner with quick access to your unit is comforting to know in the event of an emergency.

Keep in Mind the Vulnerability Factor

It is near impossible to look at a lock and know if it is part of a system that has a master key. If there is any question as to whether your home or apartment is part of a system like this, ask the landlord, the building management, or a commercial locksmith specialist.

If you don’t want anyone else to be able to unlock your door with a master key, a lock change is the only sure way that guarantees that nobody else will have an access to your property anymore.

Research has shown that almost all master keyed systems are vulnerable to an extent, but the seriousness of the threat does depend on a number of different factors.

Someone who has malicious intent for the master key, must have examined or possessed a key for the system previously. This means that any lock or key associated with the system in question is sufficient.

The attacker will then spend time probing one of the locks (maybe 50 times), which reveals more and more information about the master key. This does not need to be done in one extended period of time, a few short sessions would be sufficient.

Blank keys that fit the locks can be cut using a hand-held machine or small metal file. This method is tedious and can be time consuming, but it is definitely a possible risk.

There is also the same risk as in the case of a regular lock, if someone has the talent to pick a cylindrical lock, then being part of a master key system has no part in the vulnerability of the lock. If this is a concern, it is always a good idea to have some sort of back-up lock.

How to Reduce the Risk?

To reduce the risk of vulnerability, eliminate the use of a master key system. If this is not possible, use a lock that is more difficult to compromise. This would be a lock with multiple cylinders or electric controls, or a lock system with keys that are difficult to procure.