What are High Security Locks and why should you consider them?

Ordinary locks offer a fair degree of security and can keep intruders out in most cases. These locks are limited in the protection they can offer.

If you have ever been burglarized before or simply never want to experience this horrific violation of your privacy, please continue reading this explanation so you can understand what steps you can take to greatly reduce your chances of being victimized through inferior locks.

To understand the difference between “regular” or low-security locks and keys from high-security locks and keys, one must know how locks are defeated.

Three of the most common attacks are as follows:

Pick Attack – Using lock pick sets, skilled thieves can manually align the pins and turn the cylinders to unlock your door. There are rarely any obvious signs or damage to the lock, other than the door standing wide open. We must add, when you watch a movie and see someone pick a lock in ten seconds, that is truly an exaggeration. Picking a lock is a skilled procedure and takes an average of 5 minutes.

Bump Attack – Low-security lock cylinders have a set of pin tumblers that are matched to the key. Once they are properly aligned, the cylinder is allowed to rotate and unlock the lock. When someone bumps your lock, they have inserted a modified key and by tapping it, the alignment of the pin tumblers to their opening position takes place. Again, there is almost no way to detect a bumped lock as there is usually no damage to the cylinder or deadbolt, but this type of attack on the deadbolt can be completed in a matter of seconds and this technique leaves no tell-tale sign of being used.

Drill Attack – Using a simple cordless drill on deadbolts that do not have drill resistance, the attacker can easily drill straight through the cylinders, effectively disabling the lock. After a drill attack, a little bit of brute force will allow the attacker to turn the disabled cylinder and unlock the deadbolt. Here, you will have significant and visible damage to the lock.

Videos of these attacks can easily be seen online, by searching for them in your favorite search engine.

While there is no such thing as a Pick-Proof, Drill-Proof, or Bump-Proof lock, our High-Security Products have numerous safeguards built in that will greatly hinder the success of any of these attacks. We like to say that these locks are Pick, Bump or Drill resistant.

To hinder a Drill Attack, steel rods, plates, and other protectors are strategically placed in the lock to deflect the drill bit from its target. If the drill bit does not successfully hit one specific area within the deadbolt, the drill attack will fail. The hardened stainless steel deflectors greatly reduce the ability for success.

For Lock Pick and Bump Attacks, companies began to add numerous types of pins throughout the keyway. These pins not only change the amount of accurately aligned pins needed to pick the lock but are also placed throughout the cylinder on either a horizontal or diagonal axis. A standard deadbolt will have five pins that drop down from the top of the cylinder. The addition of a horizontal slide on the key cuts the likelihood of a successful bump or pick.

Any lock can only be as good as the door frame strength. If the burglar tries to kick the door in, ordinary locks will succumb to this attack in a matter of seconds. All high-security locks come with reinforced strike plates. The strikes are mounted in the door frame and are screwed into the studs in the wall as opposed to ordinary strikes which are only screwed in the soft wood stripping in the frame. The difference in protection is tremendous.

As a burglar’s biggest enemy is time…his chances of getting caught rise substantially with each extra minute it takes to break into your home or business.

High-security locks have been tested by Underwriters Lab to withstand the above attacks in a time test. This means that your chances of keeping out the bad guys is significantly increased by installing high-security locks.

Another important factor in many high-security locks is what we call “key control”. This means that the restricted keys we provide are registered to you and NO ONE can copy your keys without your knowledge or consent. Other locksmiths cannot copy our keys nor can they fit keys to the locks we provide to you.

If you loan a key to a family member, neighbor, worker or employee, they won’t be able to copy that key. Once you get the key back from them, you do not need to change the locks or even consider the need for doing so. They don’t have another key! We also keep records of each and every key for you as well as when each key was made. You can always check to see how many keys were ever made for your locks.

Locks that are available through hardware stores or at the big home centers are considered low security even though some of the colorful packaging may indicate that they are high security.

For a lock to really be considered high security, it must have the Underwriters Laboratory UL 437 rating. We stock several brands of UL 437 locks.

Each brand has different patented features and matching up these features to your specific needs is a task that we are proficient at.

A Word About Do Not Duplicate/Do Not Copy Keys

We are asked by many business owners or managers to supply keys marked “Do Not Duplicate” (DND) when we change the locks. They believe that their employees won’t be able to copy the keys and won’t have to change the locks if the employee quits or is let go. Keys marked “Do Not Duplicate” are NOT going to prevent unauthorized duplication. There are over 101 ways to get these keys copied!

The key cutter at the swap meet is not going to turn down a sale. Wrapping tape over the head of the key, painting over the DND even breaking the key in half are some of the tricks used to get these keys copied. There are coin operated key machines now that are so automated that they can copy a key with no human contact. Therefore, they can’t ask if the key should be copied or not. Many locksmith shops such as ours do NOT even require a letter head anymore. We just ask 1 question—How many keys would you like, today?

We believe that the use of DND keys are foolish and sometimes dangerous. You may let your guard down when using these keys and you may believe you are protected. You may not invest the time or money to change your locks when an employee leaves and as indicated above, they probably do have extras. You are fooling yourself and can be set up for a disaster.

Having High-Security Locks on your doors is the only guarantee that you can have to assure that your employees did not copy your keys.

Please contact us for more information around High-Security Locks.

Grades 1, 2, or 3?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rates locks along three grades or levels. The standards are maintained by The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). A deadbolt or lever lock can be graded with a Grade 1, 2 or 3 designation.
The testing encompasses durability and strength. Prices are directly proportional to the grade of the lock.
A Grade 3 lock generally can be in the $15-35 range where a Grade 2 lock will be in the $45 -100 range. A Grade 1 lock will generally be in the $100 + range. You get what you pay for.

A Grade 1 is the highest. These are commonly used at hospitals and schools.
A Grade 2 is in the middle. These are used in better homes and commercial spaces.
A Grade 3 is the bottom end. These are often cheap imported locks found at home centers and hardware stores.
These deteriorate and become nonfunctioning with a life expectancy of about 5 years. These are throw away locks where Grade 1 and 2 locks should last for decades and are serviceable if a problem occurs.

Cycle Test

A cycle test measures the number of times a bolt can be unlocked and locked. Grade 2 and 3 deadbolts should be able to complete 1 cycle 800,000 times while a Grade 1 deadbolt should complete 1 cycle 1 million times.

Deadbolt Projection

To secure the door, a deadbolt should be able to project into the doorjamb or door frame. Grade 2 and 3 deadbolt locks project 5/8 of an inch when secured. A Grade 1 deadbolt projects a full inch when secured.
Most deadbolts of any grade manufactured today have the 1-inch specification. All Grade 1 locks, must have the 1-inch spec.

Impact Test

When secured, a deadbolt should be able to withstand two blows of various foot pounds of force. A Grade 3 deadbolt needs to withstand 90-foot pounds. Grade 2 needs to withstand 120-foot pounds. A deadbolt with an ANSI Grade 1 needs to withstand 150-foot pounds of force.