File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

Any office today is likely to have several filing cabinets where important documents – receipts, client details, employee details, ledgers etc. – are stored. Usually, these documents are arranged in some kind of order, such as chronologically or alphabetically, to make retrieval easier.

Few things are more valuable than your company’s data, and the way your information is protected from unauthorized access is something that’s important to know. Many cabinets come with pre-installed locks. Usually single-sided wafered keyed locks. A few have locking bars, push button locks and electronic keypad locks. This article discusses the merits and demerits of common locking mechanisms, and how best to ensure your office cabinets stay secure.

File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

Are Common File Cabinet Locks Really Secure?

The security level of any lock is a subjective matter, but it can be determined by comparing it to its locking counterparts. At face value, standard file cabinets aren’t every secure. This is because many manufacturers place locks on the cabinets solely to enable locking rather than offer security. When a little force is applied to such locks, such as by hitting or picking, these locks often fall apart. A truly secure lock should be able to stand against reasonable amount of force and protect content from a variety of threats.

As you may well know, most locks have keys, and these keys contribute to the eventual level of security of the lock they open. Common keyed locks have keys that come with specific codes, meaning that anyone can note the code and make a duplicate set to open the cabinet. In addition, such locks are easy to pick or force open, making them nothing more than a hardware prop without real value.

Residential locks have evolved over the years to include anti-drill, anti-pick and anti-snap measures. Sadly, even higher end file cabinet locks aren’t usually fortified in this manner, except by custom request from a client. Therefore, you have to decide just how valuable the contents of your cabinets are, and contact your own locksmith for recommendations depending on your needs.

File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

The Size Problem

It is easy to make the erroneous assumption that other locking mechanisms, such as commercial or residential locks, are more secure just because they are bigger. At face value, it’s a reasonable argument: it is easier to damage or bypass a smaller lock than a big one.

However, the mere size of a lock isn’t the only determining factor in the final security capability of the lock. Commercial and residential locks aren’t more secure just because they are bigger. Rather, the layout of the inner locking mechanism (e.g. double/triple cylinder) and material of construction (e.g. steel alloys) give them additional security.

Now then, how can you improve the security levels of your office cabinets?

File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

Installing Additional Security

Below are some additional measures you can employ to raise the security standard of your file cabinets:

  • File Bars – while unconventional, file bars offer effective protection and are slowly gaining traction as a securing option. They feature locking bars which are attached to the cabinet and secured with a high-security padlock.
  • Key Control – while this isn’t a solution in itself, being careful about who handles filing cabinet keys reduces chances of keys being duplicated or landing in the wrong hands.
  • Systemic Security – layering your security allows you to create an organization-wide system which gives you robust security in all parts of the office. This includes having your file cabinets in access-controlled locations which limits the number of people accessing the cabinets in the first place. Surveillance systems may be a deterrent for petty thieves, and they can also provide insight into how cabinets are accessed and highlight areas that can be improved upon.
  • Simple Inspection – if you choose to change locks, be sure that your preferred option is tested for the ability to withstand common bypass tactics – drilling, picking or bumping

File Cabinet Locks and Office Security

File Cabinet Lock Types

File cabinet locks may be mechanical (manual) or electronic. Of course, some locking mechanisms can only be installed in special filing cabinets, so it’s important to decide the kind of locks you want before buying your cabinets. These are some types of locks to consider:

  • Electronic Locks – there are both keyed and keyless options and are excellent for cabinets that are accessed by many people. These locks are helpful if you tend to misplace keys, and they also remove the need to change locks when the cabinet is handed over to another person. Those who need to access the cabinet must key in the correct code, which can be changed as necessary.
  • Tubular Cylinder Locks – made to fit through a hole within the filing cabinet, which makes it slightly harder to install than other options. It is a form of keyed lock, which is opened using a round key.
  • Cam Locks – very common because of simplicity of use. The look like tubular cylinder locks, but also have a rotating bar at the back, opened using a key. The cam is a metal plate attached to the locking mechanism, and it rotates when a key is entered and turned.
  • Sliding Teeth Locks – here, a part of the locking mechanism stays with the main lock. To open, the key goes into a part that separates from the main lock. A disadvantage is that losing either the key or the removable half of the lock can render the lock useless.
  • Lock Bars – a universal lock for al drawers of the filing cabinet

If you aren’t sure what type of lock would best suit your cabinets or needs, you can consult a professional locksmith, or just speak to a store clerk at the hardware store you go to.

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