Card and fob readers are a common sight at office and apartment buildings, with many newer buildings deciding to eschew traditional keys in favour of more high-tech security options.
However, as one building manager found out, those options may be just as insecure – if not more so – than old-fashioned locks.
The manager, who went by the name “Jeff” for anonymity, spoke to Steele & Drex about how he discovered a black market of third party fob duplication here in Vancouver.
Jeff says he was first alerted to their existence on Craigslist, where he found multiple ads for electronic fob duplication in the area around his building.
He contacted one of the advertisers to find out who their service was authorized by.
As it turns out, the answer was no one.
“[He said,] ‘We have clients who are tired of property managers not giving them fobs in a timely fashion, or charging them too much, or not even wanting to give them a replacement fob. So we feel we’re providing a service to the public.’”
When Jeff inquired about the legality of their service, he was informed that they operated in a gray area.
“In his eyes, it was something that’s not illegal. There’s nothing on the books that would prevent him from doing that.”
As a manager of a building himself, Jeff believes these third-party duplicators pose a huge security risk.
He’s advocating for government regulation similar to that of locksmiths, where only licensed smiths have access to blank keys.
If they’re found improperly copying those keys, they run the risk of losing their licenses.
Jeff says allowing these duplicators to continue operating is putting apartments, warehouses, and offices at risk.
“Some level of government should be contacting Craigslist and insisting that these black market fob duplicators are not allowed to post on their site.”
His own building was in the middle of switching to electronic locks, under the impression that they were more secure than traditional ones.
“Now it’s turning out that we were probably pretty wrong,” Jeff says.