The History of Security: Door Locks, Prison Guards and Cyber Security
Keeping our properties and belongings safe and secure is a pressing issue for everyone; whether you live in a standard family home, or run a multi-million pound business. Society has found many ways to keep things secure over the years, from simple wooden bolts and private guards to more elaborate lock and key systems, CCTV, cybersecurity and more.
We’ve come a long way since the earliest security methods, and society continues to make increasingly sophisticated advances to protect our property, homes and data. If you want to know more about the history of security, and how you can protect yourself, read on for our handy guide.
Types of security system
When we talk about ‘security’, there are several different types of system that individuals, homes or businesses can use, including physical security, electronic security, lock and key systems and cyber security methods. Each method has evolved greatly over the years, and we will look at the history of each one in more detail below.
This type of security refers to bouncers, bodyguards, or any form of security where a person forms a physical barrier as a security measure. This type of private security has been around for centuries, and dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. Pharaohs would hire bodyguards for their protection, in a practice that was also used by the Ancient Romans to protect their families and property.
As urban populations increased during the 1700s, so too did crime, poverty and violence, to the point where a portion of the taxes paid was used to hire security guards to patrol the streets at night. The Industrial Revolution brought further crime, which led to the formation of private security agencies such as the Pinkerton Agency from the 1850s. These private security companies were used to guard high profile places such as banks or railroads.
Private bodyguards continue to be used today to protect a wide variety of people, from celebrities and heads of state, politicians and families of high net worth. Security guards are also a regular fixture outside buildings such as hotels, apartment blocks, offices, nightclubs, museums and more.
Lock and key systems
Lock and key security systems have been around for centuries, and they vary greatly, from ancient wooden locks to modern mechanical locks. The very first locks were made from simple knotted ropes which would give way if someone tried to open them. Early mechanical locks were then developed in Ancient Egypt, as locksmiths created a simple type of pin lock made from wood. Large wooden keys were used which would move the pins when inserted, allowing the security bolt to be moved and the door to be opened.
The Romans were some of the first to move into making locks out of metal – mainly iron – and they also downsized keys so that they could be worn around the neck or placed inside a pocket. After the fall of the Roman Empire, innovations in locksmithery slowed down considerably, and the Middle Ages saw no new technical advances. They did elaborate on the existing metal locks however, adding fake keyholes, multiple key mechanisms and elaborate hidden lock designs to deter thieves.
Things picked up again during the 18th century, when new advances allowed engineers to create sturdier and smaller locks, as well as inventions like the detector lock (which jams if someone tries to open it without the right key) by leading locksmith Jeremiah Chubb, whose name is still on locks we use today. Many locks invented during this time are used in their same form today, including pin tumbler locks, jemmy-proof locks and padlocks; which didn’t appear until 1924.
Nowadays, we also have a wide range of highly sophisticated electronic and keyless door locks, which include models controlled by keypads, keycards and even fingerprints. We will discuss methods of electronic security in more detail below.
Electronic security encompasses a wide range of different products and systems, including CCTV cameras, automated access control systems, electronic alarms and digital locks. One of the earliest electronic alarm systems dates all the way back to the 1800s, when American inventor Augustus Russell Pope invented a system using electricity, magnets and a bell. The bell sat on top of a door which, when opened, would cause an electric current to surge through the magnet and cause vibrations, ringing the bell.
Nowadays, most alarm systems are wireless, although there is still the option to have your alarm connected to your home’s main electrical system.
The earliest documented use of CCTV was in Germany in 1942, and it was launched in the US on a commercial basis in 1949. Early systems used a simple camera and monitor, and they could only be used for live monitoring – not for recording footage. The invention of VCR technology in the 1970s allowed CCTV to record footage, which made the systems very popular for businesses. VCRs were then replaced with digital recorders, removing the need for video tapes and making CCTV more efficient overall. Nowadays, many CCTV systems use network video recorders, which work by encoding and processing video footage and then streaming it for storage or remote viewing. This is particularly useful for businesses with several sites, or for anyone who wants to keep an eye on their security from a remote location.
This type of security protects computers, networks, programmes and data from hackers or any other unauthorized access, to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and theft of information. In the 1970s researcher Robert Thomas discovered that it was possible for a computer programme to move across a network, leaving a small trail as it did so. This was then picked up on by American computer programmer Ray Tomlinson, who created the first antivirus software which would find and eliminate these trails.
The first commercial internet firewall was installed by computer company Digital in 1992, and cyber security methods had to become increasingly sophisticated throughout the 1990s, as the first major viruses began to target email systems across the globe. In 1995, Netscape released SSL 2.0, which became the core way of securing the web which is still used today. It encrypts communications within your browser, so whenever you see HTTPS in a website address, you can be sure it is protected thanks to this technology.
Cyber security continues to constantly change and evolve in order to keep up with ever increasing demand and sophisticated hacker techniques. In 2016, the EU brought in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which covers data protection and privacy for all EU citizens. It regulates how companies protect individual citizens’ data, and offers an increased level of privacy as our lives become more and more digital.
The future of security
As technology continues to evolve, so do security methods, and it’s likely we’ll need to come up with increasingly sophisticated ways to protect our data as more and more aspects of life move online. The future of security could mean many exciting new innovations, such as using biometrics instead of passwords, utilising AI and smart technology to improve security, and using smart sensors to identify and solve potential issues.
It’s unlikely that the humble lock and key would ever disappear completely, but electronic and cyber security is becoming more and more sophisticated. Physical security is expected to interact with cyber security more than ever, as ‘always-on’ systems like CCTV can be prone to hackers. Adding extra cyber security can ensure that your cameras or other online security systems are protected at all times.
If you’re in need of the latest modern-day security systems for your home or business, get in touch with Campbell & McGovern. A local locksmiths in Liverpool, we’re proud to offer a wide range of services and products, including emergency locksmith services, safes, master key systems, CCTV and more. For more information about our products and services, if you need a 24 hour locksmith, or to discuss your security needs, give us a call today or visit our website.