The True Cost of the Master Key

If you operate or maintain any kind of infrastructure, you probably have an access system that has keys and a master key that can get into anything. There seem to be good reasons to set up a master key system. And, setting mechanical systems up for a master key isn’t always expensive on the quote. That’s unintentionally deceptive. The true cost of a master key on the system is only revealed when a master key is lost. The cost to rekey a cylinder might not look like that much at first glance. Costs get serious when you multiply $150-200 by the number of access points that a master key can open. The rekeying cost alone should be enough reason to think twice, but the true master key cost is far more significant.

Real-world experiences

Consider these cases where others lost the master key and what happened to them.

When a master key for the United States Postal Service network in Cincinnati was stolen, the USPS started advising citizens not to put mail in drop boxes after hours or on holidays. This means that the postal network was safe when operating as designed. The damage extends far beyond rekeying cost. Everyday people are victims of identity theft and suffer years of financial headaches through no fault of their own . Consider how common this problem is when understanding that all postal carriers carry a master key. Just search the internet for “usps master key theft” and see for yourself how common this problem is.

In another incident, an airport employee at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport lost his job after losing a master key. Airport security is among the strictest that we encounter on a daily basis. Having master keys that naturally get misplaced or stolen over time puts a major gap in this critical security program. In this case, we see that the key opened over 250 access points, suggesting that rekeying alone would cost well over $40,000. Most people don’t consider this cost in the up-front budget for a master key system.

Or consider the case at Amtrak, where employees were selling master keys for critical equipment on the internet. This is really worth reading. Amtrak admits that the keys are out there and that “it would cost too much to change the locks across the company’s infrastructure”. The rail company is admitting that there is a risk as high as passenger train derailment, but that they won’t pay to fix the problem. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Go Keyless

The true costs of a master key system are greater than they seem at first glance. Identity theft, lost jobs, compromised airport security, and possible terrorism on rail networks: this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many good reasons in 2023 to quit using master keys on infrastructure and replace them with mobile credentials for keyless access.

Teleporte is a solution to the problems of master keys. Our customers can issue digital keys to whoever needs them for whatever they need for as long as they need. We track the keys to a specific phone with Device Restriction so that the right people are using the keys. Phones are usually password protected, so they aren’t useful to a thief as keys. And even if there is no phone-level security, the digital keys can be instantly cancelled – meaning that there is no way to lose, sell or steal a master key with Teleporte.

Talk to us about how to replace the master key in your network. It will be the easiest system you’ve ever administered and in the long run you’ll save yourself more than just the significant rekeying costs.