What is Key Control? Q&A with Mark Lyons of A-1 Lock and Safe

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A term that business owners and home owners alike have become more aware of in recent years is that of “key control”. 

Key control is a concept that is imperative for any business with multiple employees which uses any kind of key-based security system, to have in place. 

do not duplicate keys

Unfortunately, the reality is that businesses who use keys don’t always go about things in an organized manner (ie. no key control) and this can become highly problematic.

Without key control being implemented and used correctly, the wrong keys will surely fall into the wrong hands before long.  This is why good businesses use key control according to the best practices of such a method, and it serves them well.

key control in effect at all times

This is why we wanted to speak with Mark Lyons, president and owner of A-1 Lock and Safe, based out of Carlsbad, California.  He also manages Mailbox Medic (also in Carlsbad) an Ace Locksmith (based in San Diego)

Mark is a longtime pro locksmith and so he is well aware of the importance of key control, and making sure it is done right.  It is a large part of his locksmithing business these days, which is assisting businesses in making sure that their key control system is up to spec.

a1 lock an safe carlsba CA

A-1 Lock and Safe has been in the locksmith business since 1926.  Here is a little bit about the company’s history, according to their Facebook page.

“We started in Downtown San Diego in 1926.

We stocked many security items and keys throughout the years and kept up with the changing technology.

Today, we cut and program many electronic safe locks as well as automotive keys and remotes.”

And so, it is a great pleasure to be able to ask Mark a few questions about such an important security issue, that being that of key control.

We hope you find our Q&A informative!


What does key control mean?

Key control utilizes keys that can not be copied without the owner’s knowledge and consent.

No locksmiths or key shops are physically able to copy them.

How big of a deal is key control and why?

Key control keys is critical to safety and security of a homeowner or business. Ex-employees can’t copy the key they were given and if turned in, can not find a way to get another key in case they want to enter the premises without authorization.

What are the different types of keys in a business and who gets them?

Master key systems can be made and corresponding keys issued that allows the employee access ONLY to the doors that they are allowed to open. 

Access is denied to doors that they are not allowed in..  The administrator works with the locksmith to set up and implement the system and issues keys to the employees.

How would an unauthorized user gain access to the wrong key and how can this be prevented? 

The administrator would keep a log of which employee get which key and they are all stored in a secure safe or other secure area.

Does the honor system simply not work?

Honor systems are too lax to control keys in a system.  No protection whatsoever.

How does an electronic locking system figure into the problem of key control…does it typically solve it or make it worse? 

Should be identical to any mechanical system if it is controlled with a key.

There’s nothing stopping people from duplicating “Do Not Duplicate” keys, is there? 

Not unless the DND keys are patent protected.

What is a patent key? 

Keys that are not allowed to be made by key black manufacturers and often the factory send the keys directly to the locksmith.

Are there any specific companies you can point to who have an especially good grasp on the risks and importance of key control (ie. who does an exceptional job that you are aware of?)

The best that I know of is us….A1 Lock and Safe.  We are specialists in the High Security market and have almost 10 different brands of hi security locks and keys for every type of installation and budget. 

We are among the largest security dealers for miles around.

Thanks Mark!


And thank you for reading!  If you have any questions or comments for Mark or one of the staff here at Your Home Security Watch, please feel free to ask away!

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