JOHN'S LOCK & KEY -
Is "Electronic Security" the New Oxymoron?

     With the rise of high-tech and its proliferation into almost every aspect of modern life the age old question of security has once again arisen.  And those selling the new smart phone compatible locks and security systems at a certain point must be arguing that the new electronic security is better than good old fashion physical security. Yet what is the problem with this thesis?     

     To anyone who watches the news or follows current events the answer is apparent. The situation reminds me very much of the typical response I get when I tell people that I teach Business Ethics.  "Isn't that an oxymoron" (followed by a smile) is the response I get 3 out of 4 times.  As an instructor of Business Ethics at San Jose State University I do not get the joke and invariably respond by explaining that I think the subject can be taught and, in fact, taught well.

     However, "Electronic Security" is another matter.  Anyone who has heard the terms "NSA", "Snowden", or "Data breach" realizes that "Electronic" and "Security" are hardly words which go together well in today's world.  Yet corporations seem to be rushing to produce more and more electronic locks which are controlled over the internet. When you have your security running through the internet you have no idea who has access to it.  Here you have security which can be hacked, perhaps over and over again, by people you never have, and never will, see.

     In contrast, when a locksmith comes out and rekeys your locks the only people who have access to your keys are yourself and, for a short time during the job, the locksmith.  In a regular rekey job, as opposed to with a master key system, no record is kept, electronic or otherwise, of what your key is and the locksmith, because it is only in his short-term memory, quickly forgets what your key is before he reaches his next job.  Here you have real security which cannot be hacked (and only you control who gets a key).  Yet it is important to remember that at heart this security rests upon the trust that you have in your locksmith. 

     So do you wish to place that trust in the hands of a fly by night operator who has no history in your community and is just out to make a profit?  Or do you want to place your trust in a long established tradesman who has deep roots in the community and wants to create a long-term relationship with his clients?  This is the choice you make when you are seeking real security like a rekey, lock change, or lock repair.  For any choice for so-called "electronic security" is in fact a choice for very little security at all.
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