Knox-Box Key Box Explained

Knox-Box Key Box

I’m willing to bet most of you regularly encounter a lock box like the ones in the photos – even if you haven’t noticed it.  They are typically mounted on the exterior of a public building, usually near a door.  If you want to see one, keep your eye out at your local shopping mall, library, hotel, or apartment complex.  You’ll probably run across one, or several.  They may protrude from the wall, or they may be mounted flush with it.  The purposes of the Knox-Box key box may be something of a mystery to most. Few people understand why these things exist.

Knox-Box Key Box

Knox-Box Key Box

Knox-Box Lock BoxIf you’ve ever taken the time to flip up the front cover you have probably noticed the high security lock beneath.  This is a Medeco Biaxial (2nd gen) cam lock.  Medeco’s cam locks utilize a clever, driverless design.  The pins in this lock must be raised to the correct height, as well as rotated to the correct angle for the lock to operate.  Knox-Box key boxes can also be integrated with the building’s alarm system to add an additional layer of security.

Knox-Box Key Box

These boxes are designed to contain a key to the building to which they are attached. All of the Knox-Boxes in a precinct or jurisdiction will be keyed alike, and the emergency services will maintain copies of these keys.  If emergency personnel need access to the building in question, they can open the box and use the key (or keys) contained therein.  This can save time, reduce the possiblity for injury during forced-entry attempts, as well as limiting damage to the building.

There are some potential vulnerabilities with this system.  Though not easy, the lock could be picked and the keys inside duplicated).  A rogue firefigher or police officer could misuse the Knox-Box key, or it could be lost, requiring a costly rekey.  And one security researcher claims he ordered a box for his town’s jurisdiction.  He then disassembled the lock and reverse-engineered a key.  Though not a perfect solution, the Knox-Box key box is a well-designed, intelligent way to handle emergency key control.

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