Title:
Asset Shield
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention includes an enclosure that can hold an asset in an inaccessible position within the enclosure. A tether connects a security device to the asset and connects the asset to the enclosure. The security device, in a secure position, holds the tether in a position that keeps the asset within the enclosure so that the asset is inaccessible, even while hanging in a security box. The security device is also movable to an authorized position that allows the tether to move relative to the enclosure to make the asset accessible to an authorized user.



Inventors:
Mastrodonato, George (Rochester, NY, US)
Eckerdt, George H. (Fishers, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/619031
Publication Date:
03/04/2010
Filing Date:
11/16/2009
Assignee:
Key Systems, Inc. (Fishers, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
70/456R, 206/39
International Classes:
A45C11/32; A45C11/18; A47G29/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BOSWELL, CHRISTOPHER J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Eugene S.Stephens, PC (Rochester, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An asset shield comprising: an enclosure making the asset inaccessible when the asset is within the enclosure; a tether connecting a security device to the asset and connecting the asset to the enclosure; the security device in a secure position holding the tether in a guard position that keeps the asset within the enclosure; and the security device being movable to an authorized position allowing movement of the tether relative to the enclosure to make the asset accessible.

2. The shield of claim 1 wherein the tether includes a ring passing the through the asset, the security device, and the enclosure.

3. The shield of claim 2 wherein the ring is movable along slots in the enclosure when the security device is in the authorized position.

4. The shield of claim 1 wherein the asset is a key.

5. The shield of claim 1 wherein the asset is a card.

6. The shield of claim 1 wherein the security device is a key that is pivotal between the secure position and the authorized position.

7. An asset shield comprising: an enclosure that denies access to the asset when the asset is within the enclosure; a security device having a secure position and an authorized position; the security device in the secure position blocking movement of the asset out of the enclosure; the security device in the authorized position allowing movement of the asset out of the enclosure; a tether connected to the security device to allow the security device to move between the secure and authorized positions; and the tether being connected to the asset and to the enclosure to allow the asset to move from the enclosure when the security device is in the authorized position and to block movement of the asset out from the enclosure when the security device is in the secure position.

8. The shield of claim 7 wherein the tether includes a ring.

9. The shield of claim 8 wherein the ring is movable along slots in the enclosure when the security device is in the authorized position.

10. The shield of claim 8 wherein the asset is a key.

11. The shield of claim 8 wherein the asset is a card.

12. The shield of claim 8 wherein the security device is a key.

13. An asset shield comprising: a security device; an enclosure shaped to make the asset inaccessible when the asset is within the enclosure; a tether connected to the security device, the asset, and the enclosure; the tether permitting the security device to move between secure and authorized positions; when the security device is in the secure position the tether holds the asset within the enclosure so that the asset remains inaccessible; and when the security device is in the authorized position, the tether is movable relative to the enclosure to allow the asset to move at least partially out of the enclosure to become accessible.

14. The shield of claim 13 wherein the tether includes a ring.

15. The shield of claim 14 wherein the ring is movable along slots in the enclosure.

16. The shield of claim 13 wherein the asset is a key.

17. The shield of claim 13 wherein the asset is a card.

18. The shield of claim 13 wherein the security device is a key.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims subject matter that was disclosed in Provisional Application No. 60/063,656, filed 24 Feb. 2005, entitled “Asset Key Shield”, and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/359,320, filed 22 Feb. 2006, entitled “Asset Key Shield”. Applicant hereby claims the benefit under 35 USC §119(e) of the U.S. provisional application, and hereby incorporates the aforementioned applications by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Security for assets

BACKGROUND

Securing assets becomes a sort of arms race between people interested in defeating or evading the security measures and those who want to strengthen the security measures so that they cannot be easily breached. This leads to increasing levels of security that become increasingly expensive. It also ensures that simple and inexpensive key security measures are welcomed whenever they can significantly increase security.

This invention provides increased asset security at a very low cost so that the extra security achieved is readily affordable.

Prior art control systems for keys, for example, have used a control key to control access to an asset key. The asset key affords access to something worth securing, and the control key is on the same key ring as the asset key and is locked within a security cabinet accessible only by authorized people. Some control systems also limit access to controlled keys to a specific few of the people authorized to enter the security cabinet for any purpose. Persons authorized to remove the control key from the security box then have access to the associated asset key mounted on the same key ring as the control key. This ensures that the asset key and the control key remain connected and that when the control key is returned to the security box the asset key is also returned. For these purposes, the key ring is made in a secure form that cannot be opened to remove a key without leaving evidence of tampering.

One problem with this arrangement is that the code on the asset key is vulnerable to copying by anyone gaining access to the security box, even though such access does not extend to a particular asset key. A person having access to the security box for one particular control key and asset key can see the other asset keys hanging openly in the box and can possibly copy unauthorized asset keys by memory or by an impression made using wax, a bar of soap, or even pliable skin on a forearm.

This problem of exposed information also applies to other assets such as credit cards, parking or membership cards, vehicle fobs, and other items. It can also be desirable in some cases to assure that information relating to an asset accompanies the asset not only when it is removed from the box but also when the asset is returned to the box. A good example of this need is a vehicle key associated with a fob for the same vehicle, a gasoline credit or debit card, and a parking, toll, or membership pass. Whoever gets authorization to the vehicle key should also have access to the related information, which should always accompany the vehicle key and the credit card while remaining reasonably secure. Meanwhile, information about such assets deserves protection, even while located in a security box.

SUMMARY

This invention adds inexpensive additional security to the protection of assets that are accompanied by security devices. The assets can be keys, cards, passes, and innumerable other things worth protecting. When the assets are cards, such as credit or debit cards, they are preferably included within a holder that protects the cards and enables the cards to be held in an inaccessible position or moved to a position allowing access to the cards.

The control devices are often keys that allow access to the asset, but they can also be padlocks, switches, valves, and other devices. One function of the security devices is to ensure that only the authorized persons have access to the asset.

The invention includes an enclosure that can hold the asset and make the asset inaccessible when it is within the enclosure. The “asset” for this purpose can include a holder for an asset card.

The invention also includes a tether that connects the security device to the asset and connects the asset to the enclosure. The tether can be a key ring or loop, a pin or other fastener, or a multi-piece device such as interlocking loops or rings.

The tether connections are arranged to make the asset movable at least part way out of the enclosure to make the asset accessible, but such movement is allowed only when authorized by the security device. Persons having access via the security device can then also have access to the enclosure and can move the asset out of the enclosure far enough to become accessible, but this movement occurs only when permitted by the security device. The tether connection to the security device allows the security device to move between a secure or guard position blocking any movement of the asset out of the enclosure and an authorized position allowing movement of the asset out of the enclosure.

These security measures provide obstacles to the accessibility of the asset and reduce chances of misuse or misplacement. They can also ensure that items associated with the asset remain connected to the asset during use. If a security violation occurs, the protective measures offered by this invention reduce the number of suspects who may have violated security rules. For this purpose, the security device controlling access to the asset can also produce a log of information on who gained access to the asset and when such access was gained.

DRAWINGS

An application of the invention to an asset in the form of a key and a security device in the form of a control key is illustrated in FIGS. 1-7 as follows:

FIG. 1 is a partially exploded perspective view of the inventive shield separated from the control and asset keys mounted on a key ring.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to the view of FIG. 1, showing the key ring and keys assembled into the shield with an asset key in an operating position.

FIGS. 3-7 are perspective views similar to FIG. 1 and show steps in the movement of the asset key into the shield while the control key moves out of the shield to an operating position shown in FIG. 7.

A more general application of the invention to an asset in the form of a card and a security device in the form of a key is schematically illustrated in FIGS. 8-10 as follows:

FIG. 8 is a partially schematic and partially cut-away view of an enclosure denying access to a card within a card holder until authorized by a security device in the form of a control key.

FIG. 9 is a view similar to the view of FIG. 8 showing the control key moved to an authorized position enabling access to the asset.

FIG. 10 is a view similar to the views of FIGS. 8 and 9 showing movement of the tether and the security key to a position allowing access to the asset card in the card holder.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The invention is best understood by the schematic illustrations of FIGS. 8-10, which will be described first. Then an application of the invention to an asset in the form of a key, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-7, will be explained.

As shown in FIG. 8, enclosure 30 holds an asset 40 in the form of a card contained within a card holder 31. A security device 50, in the form of a control key, controls access to the contents of enclosure 30. A tether 60, in the form of a ring, connects security key 50 to enclosure 30 and to card holder 31 carrying asset 40. Ring 60, along with objects connected to ring 60, is movable along the length of slots 70 in enclosure 30, as shown by movement to the position illustrated in FIG. 10.

Enclosure 30 is shaped to contain and block access to asset 40, which happens to have a card shape. Asset 40 can also have many other shapes, which enclosure 30 can be configured to accommodate. When asset 40 is a card, it is preferably contained within holder 31, so that “asset” can refer to the combination of holder 31 and card 40 that the holder contains. Otherwise, card 40 could be destroyed if it required a hole to receive ring 60 or some other tether. Card holder 31 provides such a hole while retaining card 40 within holder 31 so that when card 40 is contained within holder 31, the term “asset” can refer to the combination of card 40 and its holder 31.

Security device 50 can often be a key, which can be held in a lock within a security box. A person having appropriate authorization can then remove key 50 from a security box (not shown) to give the person access to the asset. When key 50 is held within a lock in the security box, asset 40 in card holder 31 is held within enclosure 30, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, where asset card 40 is inaccessible. Enclosure 30 is configured with a wall 32 that blocks any upward movement of enclosure 30 relative to security device 50 when security device 50 is angled to the position shown in FIG. 8 to be inserted into a control lock. This prevents any sliding motion of ring 60 in slots 70 when key 50 is held within a lock in a security box. Enclosure 30 is also configured so that when security device 50 is in the locked position illustrated in FIG. 8. The enclosure cannot be manipulated into any position that allows ring 60 to slide along slots 70. This ensures that asset card 40 and its card holder 31 remain protected within enclosure 30 when key 50 is in the secure position illustrated in FIG. 8. A significant advantage of this is that when security device 50 is held within a security box, persons having access to the box but lacking authorization to remove security device 50 then have no access to asset card 40 and its holder 31.

An authorized person is able to remove security device 50 from a lock in a security box. This allows security device 50 to move to the position shown in FIG. 9 which authorizes access to asset card 40 and its card holder 31. In this position, ring 60, and key 50 can be moved along the length of slots 70 in enclosure 30 to the position illustrated in FIG. 10 which allows removal of card 40 from card holder 31 as indicated by the arrow in FIG. 10.

Ring 60 affords a tether between security device 50, enclosure 30, and card holder 31 holding asset 40. Tether 60 can have forms other than a ring. For example, tether 60 can be a pin that extends through slots 70 and connects ring 50, enclosure 30, and the holder 31 of asset 40. Tether 60 could also be a padlock or some other device that makes the necessary connections and allows appropriate movements. Tether 60 can also be something other than a single unit. For example, tether 60 can be formed of interlocking loops connected to the security device, the asset, and the enclosure.

One advantage of forming tether 60 as a ring or loop is that it can then retain related information or devices that do not require the same protection as asset 40. A good example of this is an automobile key and fob mounted on tether ring 60 while an asset card for gasoline is mounted on tether ring 60 within enclosure 30. Whoever obtains authorized access via security device 50 then has the car key, a fob for opening the doors of the car, and the gasoline card or parking pass for the car shielded within holder 31. The authorized user then has access to the car, and by moving the tether along slots 70, also has access to cards associated with the car. Meanwhile, the key and the fob can be available outside enclosure 30 for use by an authorized person.

Control device 50, besides being a key, could also be a padlock, or a switch or valve that releases a device allowing tether movement along the length of slots 70. One function of control device 50 is to allow removal from a security box only by an authorized person. Another function of security device 50 is to ensure that the asset remains within the enclosure until the security device allows removal from a security cabinet. In other words, when the security device is locked up the asset is guarded by the enclosure, and the only way to get access to the asset is to be authorized by the security device, which then allows movement of the tether relative to the enclosure to make the asset accessible.

The security system explained above relative to FIGS. 8-10 is applied to an asset in the form of an asset key 2, a differently shaped enclosure 4, and a security device in the form of a control key, as explained below.

The key shield of FIGS. 1-7 includes a control key 1 and an asset key 2 mounted on a key tether ring 3, which is preferably a tamper-evident ring that does not easily allow removal or replacement of keys. In the exploded view of FIG. 1, keys 1 and 2 and ring 3 are separated from shield body or enclosure 4. Body 4 is preferably made long enough to contain and conceal asset key 2 when control key 1 is in use by being locked in a security cabinet. This concealment is preferably accomplished by giving enclosure 4 a rear wall 10, a front wall 11, and edge walls 12 and 13. Face walls 10 and 11 are parallel with each other and separated by enough room to receive keys 1 and 2. Opposite ends of edge walls 12 and 13 preferably have notches or openings 7 and 8 to be used as explained below. Opposite ends 17 and 18 of body 4 are open ended in the vicinity of openings 7 and 8.

Front wall 11 of shield 4 has a longitudinal slot 15 aligned with, and parallel with another slot 16 in rear wall 10. Slots 15 and 16 allow key ring 3 to be mounted within the slots to pass through the space between front and rear walls 11 and 10. Keys 1 and 2 are also mounted on ring 3 in the space where ring 3 passes between walls 10 and 11. Slots 15 and 16 allow key ring 3 and its mounted keys 1 and 2 to slide longitudinally of shield 4 for the length of slots 15 and 16. For this purpose, slots 15 and 16 are spaced from edge wall 12 by less than a diameter of key ring 3. The ends of slots 15 and 16 preferably extend to within a key ring diameter of opposite end regions 17 and 18 of front and rear walls 11 and 10. This gives key ring 3 freedom of movement and freedom of pivotal orientation to keep key ring 3 out of the way of movement of keys 1 and 2.

Visibility shields 6 are preferably also mounted on key ring 3 to straddle asset key 1 and possibly also straddle control key 2. As explained more fully below, asset shield 6 can prevent any viewing of asset key 1 when it is housed within the walls of shield body 4.

The assembled views of FIGS. 2-7 show steps in operation beginning with asset key 2 exposed for use at an open end 17 of shield body 4. The steps proceed from FIG. 2 to FIG. 7 where control key 1 is exposed for locking the assembly in a security box and asset key 2 is concealed within shield body 4 between visibility shields 6. The movements involved in the illustrated steps are accomplished by sliding key ring 3 between the ends of slots 15 and 16. In the position illustrated in FIG. 2, asset key 2 can pivot on ring 3 by at least 60 degrees relative to the axis or slot direction of key body 4. This pivoting of asset key 2 is accommodated by a notch or opening 7 at an end 17 of shield 4. Key shields 6, which straddle asset 2, are free to pivot aside, as shown in FIG. 2, by a notch 7 in end wall 13 opposite notch 7 in end wall 12. These movements position asset key 2 for convenient use.

While asset key 2 is exposed for use, in the position illustrated in FIG. 2, control key 1 is preferably arranged within shield body 4. The code on control key 1 may be visible through slots 15 and 16, but this is not as risky as making the code of asset key 2 visible.

FIGS. 3-7 illustrate how ring 3 and keys 1 and 2 can move from a position near open end 17 to a position near opposite open end 18. As such movement begins, and key ring 3 starts moving downward in slots 15 and 16, asset key and key shields 6 begin moving toward alignment with slots 15 and 16, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. Then as asset key 2 moves into alignment with slots 15 and 16 within shield body 4, as shown in FIG. 5, key shields 6 move into similar alignment to conceal asset key 2 within shield body 4, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. When the movement is complete and key ring 3 reaches a position near open end 18 of shield body 4, as shown in FIG. 7, then control key 1 emerges from shield body 4 and is able to pivot on key ring 3 relative to shield body 4 to the position shown in FIG. 7. This position is made possible by notch openings 8 at open end region 18 of shield body 4. This position also disposes control key 1 to be locked in a security box. Also in the position illustrated in FIG. 7, asset key 2 is housed completely within body 4 where visibility shields 6 conceal the code on asset key 2.

When keys 1 and 2 and shield body 4 are stored in a secure cabinet, in the position illustrated in FIG. 7, control key 1 is preferably locked into a position in which it is removable only by an authorized person. While control key 1 is locked in place, shield body 4 hangs from key ring 3 to conceal asset key 2 behind visibility shield 6, as shown in FIG. 7.

When control key 1 is removed to allow use of asset key 2, then key ring 3 and everything attached to key ring 3 can begin moving along slots 15 and 16 to a position near open end 17 of shield body 4. This brings everything gradually back to the position illustrated in FIG. 2 where asset key 2 is positioned for use.