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The key to meeting government specs.

Lock manufacturers are responding to new government specifications with creative and innovative lock design concepts. The solutions may vary, but everyone agrees that making major changes in the most important and primary

locking device used by the intelligence community is serious business.

Some individuals believe that as electronic locks enter the market, they will be the final solution to securing classified documents and materials in safes, vaults, and cabinets. However, users must be prepared for the uncertainties that may arise in the initial application of this new generation of locks.

To understand the series of upgrades and alterations eminent in the electronic lock's evolution, it is helpful to take a brief look at the history of mechanical locks and the modifications made in the past 50 years that have directly reflected specific government needs to provide effective document security.

In the 1960s, the federal government's request for X-ray protection was recognized by UL's creation of the Group 1R category and lock manufacturers' introduction of plastic wheels such as Delrin. Vibration manipulation techniques, developed in the 1970s, were also minimized with added wheel torque requirements.

Another security issue arose during the 1980s when automatic dialing machines were increasingly used to defeat the security of mechanical combination locks. The new method of container entry made several of the commonly used UL Group 1 combination locks obsolete and, over the past three years, has prompted the military to upgrade its lock specifications (MIL-L-15596G) to include testing for automatic dialing machines.

In 1988, the Defense Investigative Service (DIS) issued a requirement that by 1988 all secret documents will be removed from padlock, locking-bar type containers and stored in General Service Administration (GSA)-approved containers. The purpose is to upgrade the security of stored secret documents.

In 1989, GSA, with the guidance of the Interagency Advisory Committee on Security Equipment (IACSE), developed a new federal combination lock specification - FF-L-2740 - that not only included changes in requirements for security but also addressed operational improvements.

Combination redial, one of the most significant specification additions, requires that once the lock bolt has been extended to the locked position, the lock cannot be reopened without completely redialing the combination. To meet these specifications, mechanical locks are being upgraded and electromechanical lock designs are coming of age.

Electronic technology offers important advantages, such as the use of computers to store and process information. Yet unproven as primary security devices, electronic lock designs will undergo extensive testing and evaluation by the intelligence community as well as by government lock testing and evaluation groups.

In the intelligence community, access controls traditionally have been thought of as people-control devices rather than security devices. Applying this technology when adapted as a primary locking device (the main security barrier of the safe, vault, or cabinet) is a tremendous challenge.

For example, electronics on a safe have to resist a different set of threats and operational concerns than access controls, which simply use a microprocessor to identify authorized personnel and codes to allow entry into secured areas.

Electronic technology in lock applications must be improved to incorporate advanced security features required by new government specifications for secured containers. Because of the unproven, technology, unknown security effectiveness, and threats of possible overview and fingerprinting techniques of electronic locks, dial-type code input devices are preferred to push-pad input devices.

Responding to the federal government's changing needs, various lock manufacturers are working to enhance Group 1R mechanical combination locks to meet the new government requirements on safes, vaults, and cabinets.

Mechanical locks are now required on special containers, communications security (COMSEC) containers, interior container doors and drawers, vaults, sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs), and field safes. With field safe applications, electronic locks have inherent problems with environmental conditions and durability.

One outcome has been the design of an operationally advanced and secure electronic lock. In addition to the high security offered by this electronic lock, other product features include self-generation of power, solar cells for emergency power, penalties for incorrect code entry, ease of operation, and multiple use codes.

As the government acknowledges electronic looks as a viable alternative, these locks must maintain the same security level on safes, vaults, and cabinets as mechanical locks. As outlined in the government's classifications of various security threats, electronic locks are being designed to resist surreptitious entry - the most sophisticated level of entry.

With surreptitious entry, the intruder gains entry through such techniques as manipulation or radiological attack that are undetected by qualified persons during normal inspections. Under the next level, convert entry, evidence is not detectable during inspection by a qualified person. Forced entry, or the use of tools to force open the lock or container, drawer, or door, is obvious to both the user and inspector.

In 1989, new government specifications for container manufacturers redefined those levels of security and made other changes that forced all manufacturers of GSA-approved containers to requalify their equipment accordingly.

For example, requirements prohibiting covert entry replaced requirements prohibiting surreptitious entry on containers. The resistance time of 30 minutes remained the same, but attack tools and techniques were different.

Convert entry methods would allow drilling and cutting into the container and repairing any marks caused by an attack. Previous surreptitious entry attacks would not allow this type of attack.

Another area of concern regarding the government's transition into electronic lock applications is installing, operating, and servicing tools and techniques. Improper installation may reduce security and reliability. Users must be retrained to operate the lock properly, and new locksmith service techniques must be developed to open a locked container and repair the unit to meet GSA standards. Previous techniques of drilling and plugging a container drawer head will no longer be used, and future GSA containers may require cutting the lock bolts off the drawer head. GSA is in the process of providing a service and repair procedure for containers and locks.

No broad-based retrofit program has been designed to meet government requirements at this time. Individual agencies and departments have been allowed to determine if existing containers must be upgraded using advanced locks. Existing locks on containers may be replaced with the same type lock under normal repair and servicing.

BEYOND OPERATIONAL CONCERNS, THE future of electronic security devices with safe, vault, and cabinet applications will be influenced by many different factors.

The first factor relating to the future of electronics is a proposal for multi-level security products to match various levels of document sensitivity. This could quite possibly change the theory of one lock, one container for all levels of security - top secret, and confidential.

Now emerging on the market is a new advanced Group 1R electronic lock priced at eight to 10 times the current mechanical lock being used by container manufacturers. The new Class 5 forced-entry resistant, four-drawer file container is approximately double the cost of the previous container (prior to change).

Since top secret material - estimated at 5 to 8 percent of all classified documents - needs the most protection, the new lock and container would be appropriate.

However, secret documents and materials may be protected more economically and still be provided the necessary security. Confidential material, the majority of all classified documents, can also be provided security protection to match the risk.

One economical approach would be the use of locks and containers to protect top-secret documents today for the protection of tomorrow's confidential material. Lock manufacturers could produce locks with 20, 15, and 10 staff-hours of resistance to meet the needs of secret, top-secret, and confidential documents respectively.

Another issue that could have a bearing on the future of electronic lock applications is the use of computer storage for classified information. Classified data stored on hard drives would required less space for hard-copy files and containers and would possibly call for a different type of security container and locking device.

If more classified information is stored on smaller media, the risk is higher than for typical hard-copy files and may demand a lock and container of a higher grade.

The third issue to note is the government's review of security relating to the current reduction of Eastern Block threats. The warming of the cold war is a paradox, as it has toned down the need for this type of equipment.

Finally, the governments futuristic requirements for electronic locks may change over time to include such features as audit trails, which record the user's identity, along with the date and time of container entry; a security network, which provides guard stations with the secured or unsecured status of security containers; and time locks, which are used to restrict access at any given time.

As lock manufacturers provide electronic locks to meet the government's new security challenges and demands, manufacturers, users, and service personnel alike will experience learning curves and transitions during the electronic lock's evolution.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:lock specifications
Author:Murphree, Gary
Publication:Security Management
Date:May 1, 1992
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