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Lock Security Features

Bump Resistance

The first thing to consider when looking at the security of most locks is the bump-resistance of the lock. In short, bumping allows anyone with a special 'bump' key to open many of today's common locks after about five minutes of practice. In most cases, bump keys can be ordered by anybody online for under $5. While most home burglaries in the US do not currently involve bumping, it has been used in the last few years, especially in apartment complexes, by burglars. Additionally, bumping as a method of entry is likely underreported as many cases of bumping are attributed to the door having been left unlocked. You want to make sure any lock you are buying is bump proof. Bumping requires a pin tumbler lock and just about all pin tumbler locks may be vulnerable to some form of bumping. Most high security locks have specific features to try and make bumping much harder. We have a full page on The Bumping Threat that you can see for more details.

Key Control

Key Control is another important aspect of any high security lock. Key control refers to how easily key blanks can be obtained, which is important when considering key duplication and the production of bump keys. Common blanks, such as those found at many locksmiths and hardware stores, are available to anyone. This can make it much easier to get a key duplicated, or to get a bump key for the system made. While no key is 100% un-duplicable, most high security locks take precautions to make sure that real blanks are not available to the general public. Many high security systems have different levels of key control. Most frequently the lowest level of key control will make the blanks available to any dealer in the system. The next level generally promises some local exclusivity (to a certain county or part of the state). The following level elevates to a national or international level of key control (sometimes only one dealer or the factory has access to the blanks). The highest level is where the factory is the only one permitted to access key blanks. It is important to have a high level of key control when choosing a key system to ensure that someone cannot obtain an unauthorized copy of your key. This is especially important in systems where you may be required to give a key out for a fixed period of time. Restricted key blank access means you can be sure no other copies have been made when you get your key back. Along with key control, it is important that your dealer is reputable and will not duplicate keys without the proper authority. In addition, you should make sure your keys are not labeled with your dealers name or phone number, or worse, the cuts of the key (often a four, five or six digit number stamped directly on the key). With these markings, someone only needs to see your key momentarily to figure out where to obtain a new key or what the key code is, which can be used to have a duplicate made.

Preventing unauthorized access to blanks is just one aspect of key control. Making the keys harder to duplicate without key machines is another. Most keys are only metal and there are a variety of ways to try to mimic an original key or blank. Metal can be cast and molded with proper skill to duplicate keys. Some high security locks feature interactive or movable elements to deter casting (BiLock, Mul-T-Lock, for a few). While these can frequently be simulated using other techniques, it can help the problem. Other keys are cut in such a way that clay molding or similar is generally not sufficient to capture the detail required to duplicate the key (Abloy). These require much more expensive and complex silicone molding kits to produce a counterfeit. Other keys include features that are extremely hard to reproduce. This can include magnets that are specifically polarized (EVVA MCS), or hybrid electro-mechanical locks that include an electronic chip in the head of the key which makes it virtually impossible to duplicate (Abloy Cliq).

Pick Resistance

Pick resistance is also an important feature to consider when looking at high security locks. While picking is rarely used in common household burglaries, it is important to ensure your locks cannot be easily bypassed by someone who has learned basic picking techniques that are readily available in books and online. Some people currently pick locks as a hobby, and while most sport lock pickers would never use their knowledge for criminal purposes, it is a good idea to ensure your locks are protected against all forms of attack. There are some manufacturers who claim their locks are pick proof or unpickable. We at Security Snobs refrain from using those terms. Eventually, every lock design will be compromised in some way. While locks may be able to resist picking for many years or even decades, a mechanical lock is like a good puzzle that someone will eventually solve. At Security Snobs we only sell products that have never been picked or are extremely pick resistant, unless we have a disclaimer stating otherwise on the page. While some of the locks we sell may be possible to pick open by an extremely talented picker, it is extremely unlikely to happen in a real world scenario without a large amount of time, tools, and without prior knowledge of the lock or a working key.

Drill Resistance

Drill resistance deals with how easy it is for someone to bypass your lock cylinder using a normal drill and hardened drill bits to drill through it. Most high security cylinders are made of hardened metal and/or include several hardened metal inserts to hinder drilling. Drilling is also another reason never to use a standard, non-lockable thumbturn deadbolt; someone trying to break into your house can simply drill through the door creating a small hole and then use a stiff wire to unlock your deadbolt.

Force Resistance

Force resistance deals with attacks related to kicking, prying, or sawing, frequently of the lock itself. Our Abloy product line of deadbolts features a unique additional resistance feature called an expanding bolt. An expanding bolt is one that, when fully extended, will lock into the door jamb so that it cannot be pulled or pried away. There are also jimmy proof deadbolts that interlock with the jamb to also prevent prying. Many cylinders and door products will also feature something called a spin-collar. The spin collar is meant to resist torque attacks by a wrench or similar. If someone was to use a wrench on the outside of the lock it would simply spin the collar rather than allow the cylinder itself to be turned. Many higher end deadbolts and certain other products may include a reinforced strike box or mounting piece to help resist kick or force attacks. While these can help, they are generally not sufficient to properly reinforce a door. There are specific door reinforcement products that vary from basic jamb re-enforcers to entire kits that can make a door extremely resistant to force attacks.