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Definition of "Tamper-Resistant Lock"

Question: As a security director, I'm expected to know the requirements of the Bank Protection Act regulations. I have no problem with a vault, a lighting system illuminating the vault after hours, and alarm systems. But I have a problem with deciding what a "?tamper-resistant lock?" is. Just exactly what is that? What makes a lock tamper resistant? Do you have a good explanation?

Answer: This often comes up for discussion among security officers. Security professionals normally describe high-security locks to be those that:

  1. Resist picking
  2. Resist tampering
  3. Resist forced entry
  4. Allow access to those with special tools or special knowledge
  5. Allow exit without special tools or knowledge
  6. Record events (electronic locks)

Whether you choose to incorporate each, a few, or all these features depends on the level of security you're looking for. A good rule of thumb is that if the lock has a UL listing, it incorporates at least one or more of the features above. That is a fair explanation of the standard of the industry.

We had hoped when the BPA requirements were updated in 1991 there would be a better explanation of what the regulators were looking for in the way of locks, but the final reg had exactly the same wording as before. Seems they couldn't decide what a tamper resistant lock was either!

The best article I've seen on the explanation of the types of locks and what they can do is in the February, 2003 issue of Security Technology & Design. You should still be able to get that article online at

Copyright © 2003 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 13, No. 2, 4/30

First published on 04/30/2003

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