Access Control Systems
An electric strike lock is an access control device used for doors. It replaces the fixed strike faceplate often used with a keeper.). Like a fixed strike plate, it usually presents a ramped or beveled surface to the locking latch allowing the door to close and latch just like a limited electric door strike would. After the door is opening past the keeper, the keeper returns to its standard position and re-locks when power is removed or applied, depending upon the strike’s configuration.
The configurations of the electric strike are:
Fail-secure: In this configuration, the strike would remain locked in a power failure but typically can still use the mechanical lock to open the door from the inside for egress from the safe side.
Fail-safe: If there is a power failure, the door strike opens merely by being pushed or pulled.
Hold-open: the Hold-open function ease usage because the powering of the door strike and the opening of the strike do not need to be precisely synchronized.
Sometimes electric strike lock has buzzers that allow someone outside the electric door strike to listen when the door is opening. The alternating current creates this noise.
It’s necessary to consider many things if you want to buy an electric strike lock. However, in some cases, it’s an excellent option to choose a magnetic lock.
Electric strike locks work by replacing the standard strike with an energized door strike in which one side is cut out and replaced with a hinged piece of metal. When activated, the part of the metal swings like a saloon electric door strike and opens the entrance.
Electric strike locks remain locked from the outside at all times. With this type of lock, the door closes behind you and automatically fastens in a locked position.
Alternatives to cellular telephone entry systems
Alternatives to cellular telephone entry systems
- Cellular telephone entry systems with cameras :
To accommodate technology innovations, some manufacturers have opted to offer the telephone entry system with a camera. These systems may have a built-in camera or may require you to purchase and install a camera separately.
However, telephone-based intercoms can’t handle two-way video transfers. As a result, residents can see videos of their visitors, but visitors can’t see residents.
2. WiFi phone entry systems :
Some companies have attempted to modernize the telephone entry system by using WiFi instead of cellular networks in recent years. WiFi telephone entry systems send data between residents’ cell phones and system hardware via WiFi instead of a telephone network.
WiFi telephone entry systems are a decent attempt at adapting cellular systems to the modern age. However, they fall short in crucial ways. WiFi networks and cellular networks are different. Because of that, consistent and rapid communication between them is difficult.
Cell phones, especially smartphones, can easily interpret data from WiFi networks. But cellular telephone entry systems can’t. Since cellular telephone systems can only handle specific data, adding WiFi capabilities to a telephone entry system.
3. Video intercom systems :
Video intercoms are the best alternative to a cellular telephone entry system.
Like cellular entry systems, intelligent video intercoms use phones as intercom substations that allow communication and guest entry. But unlike cellular entry systems, video intercoms are capable of more than just phone calls. The best video intercoms for apartments are fully smartphone-compatible and leverage the full power of the smartphone for a seamless property access experience.
Video intercoms let residents use their smartphones to video chat with visitors and open doors and gates remotely. They also offer other property access methods, which means visitors have more than one way to request access. The best systems may offer virtual keys for planned visits and delivery PINs and passes for courier access.
Pro tip: When shopping for a video intercom, choose a cloud-based system that lets you manage access and update your tenant directory remotely.
Here’s a comparison between intelligent video intercoms and cellular telephone entry systems:
Smart video intercom
Cellular telephone entry system
Remote door opening
Virtual keys for guest access
Integrations with other intelligent building systems
Cell phone entry systems may be a step up from the traditional telephone entry system. Still, they fail to offer the robust features and functionality of video intercoms. If you’re looking for a better multi-tenant entry system, choose a video intercom like ButterflyMX instead. Installed in more than 5,000 buildings, ButterflyMX is the industry’s leading property access control services.
Work of cellular telephone entry system
How does a cellular telephone entry system work?
These calls allow residents to speak to whoever is at the base station and grant guests an access control system. Since the system is cell phone-based, residents don’t even have to be building to let their guests onto the property.
Here’s how a cellular telephone entry system works:
A guest seeking property access finds the resident they’re visiting in the entry system’s base station.
The telephone entry system places a call over a cellular network to the resident’s phone.
When the resident picks up, they can speak with the guest like any other phone call. Their guests can also hear and talk to them since the system’s base station has a microphone and speaker.
Finally, the resident can let the guest in by pressing ‘9’ on their cell phone.
Limitations of cellular telephone entry systems
Expensive. Using a cellular network for calls may require you to invest in a commercial-grade cellphone plan with an ongoing, high-bandwidth connection.
Inconvenient for you. Who’s going to be stuck with scheduling and managing a technician whenever a resident moves in or out? Those aren’t tasks you need to add to your busy schedule. Best to look for a system that automatically updates rent rolls, taking things off your plate instead of piling on.
Few property access methods. When visitors arrive at a building with a cell phone entry system, they only call the resident. There are no virtual keys for guests or delivery PINs for couriers.
No cloud-based management. Cloud-based entry systems let property staff manage access and update the tenant directory with a web-based dashboard from anywhere, on any device. In contrast, cellular entry systems require you to download software onto one specific device to manage the system remotely.
Cellular Telephone Entry Systems: Your Questions Answered
What is the difference between a cellular telephone entry system and a landline entry system?
Cellular telephone entry systems work on cellular telephone networks, so they do not require landlines. They still provide the same voice-based functionality. A visitor can hit a “call” button on such a system, and it will ring a designated number where someone can speak to them and grant can entry in an access control system. But because most people today have “smart” cellular telephones that allow them to see video feed and download apps. Cellular telephone entry systems have many more capabilities than previous landline-based telephone entry systems ever could have.
In traditional landline telephone entry systems, the system connects via a wired landline. In contrast, cellular entry systems connect via a cellular connection, much like what your cell phone uses to make phone calls.
Landline entry systems require you to purchase and run a phone line to the base station installed at the entryway of your building. Now, cell phone entry systems have eliminated the need for telephone wiring. This lack of wiring also makes setting up an outdoor gate access control system more accessible. As you’ll no longer need to run wiring from your building to your gate.
Cellular monitoring services
Cellular monitoring is steadily becoming more popular for building security systems. Cellular monitoring services work through the cellular towers rather than routing through a landline. This flexible solution means your home security doesn’t rely on a landline property or an internet connection.
A cellular system is exceptionally versatile because there’s no need to run any wires. On the other hand, cellular systems often consume more battery energy because the wireless system requires energy to use. You can create an entirely wireless solution through the internet (when applicable) and cellular data.
Whether or cellular tower outages can disrupt a cellular building security system. Cellular-based systems also tend to be more expensive upfront. However, they may contain more advanced technologies and could even save money in the long term.
Advantages to cellular monitoring services include:
A versatile, wireless system that doesn’t need any additional connections.
Affordability, depending on whether the property owner has a landline.
Being able to place anywhere and easily take the plan with you if you move.
Landline Monitoring Services
Most traditional services are landline monitoring services, meaning they connect directly to a phone line. These monitoring services often require their dedicated landline to alert emergency services when something triggers the alarm.
Landline services aren’t disrupted by weather the way cellular telephone entry systems are, but they still can potentially go down. When they do, they may create a false alarm.
Advantages to landline monitoring services include:
Stability of monitoring. These systems are less likely to experience outages.
Ease of setup since many homes already have landline technology in place for the monitoring system.
Being less likely to require or run on battery power
The affordability, both in terms of technology and monitoring cost.
Cellular vs. landline monitoring
Many security companies offer both cellular and landline monitoring systems, depending on your specific needs. If you want to run wires, a landline system may prove more affordable and durable. But if you want a versatile design that doesn’t need hard-wired connections, you may prefer a cellular system.
Some companies recommend you have both cellular and wired systems. That way, if the wired landline system goes down, the cellular operates as a backup — or vice versa —especially in places with intermittent connections, like rural areas.
Due to similarities in the equipment, it’s purely the connection you need to consider. You can access the same features and the same monitoring experience through either cellular or landline monitoring. You’ll need to determine which is best for you based on reliability and cost, which will depend on your area and the system you choose.
How landline systems became cellular systems
They have developed cellular telephone entry systems during the shift from landline phones to cell phones.
Before they used cellular networks, telephone entry systems used copper wires to connect an entryway’s door station to each resident’s apartment. Installing one of these entry systems meant modifying existing phone lines or purchasing and laying new wiring.
Even today, running wire throughout a building means tearing out walls and rebuilding them again, and those costs add up. What’s more, residents could only answer calls from guests when they were in their properties. As a result, landline phone entry systems caused residents to miss visitors and deliveries.
When cell phone popularity exploded in the 2000s, the landline system quickly became outdated. Intercom providers turned to cellular technology as a better, more efficient alternative to wired landlines. In contrast to landline systems, cell phone-based systems use cellular networks, eliminating the need for wiring.
Cellular Telephone Entry Systems
Cellular Telephone Entry Systems: Your Questions Answered
For decades, telephone entry systems were physical landline-based systems—a property or business owner who wished to install a telephone entry system outside another entry point. Help screen and grant visitors access would first have to have their telephone landline that the telephone entry system could connect to and call. From the 1980s to the 2000s, this type of landline connection was usually possible in most urban areas since the masses still used landline telephones. But purchasing such a system for use in a more rural area was still challenging because the cost to have telephone landlines laid was often cost-prohibitive.
Whether you manage a gated community or own an apartment building, the entry system you install affects how visitors, delivery carriers, and even residents access your property. Suppose you’re seeking a wireless access control system for your gate or door. In that case, you might be considering a cellular telephone entry system.
Although telephone entry systems have historically required landlines, some systems now operate over cellular connections. Read this post for a quick guide to cellular telephone entry systems. Find out if a cell phone entry system is the right solution to meet your property access control system needs.
As landline telephone installations became less frequently requested during that time, the older, existing landlines installed decades before were also starting to degrade and needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, the cost of replacing or installing a new landline had invariably gone up as well. That suddenly made it cost-prohibitive to install a landline telephone entry system in an urban area and helped pave the way for the development of newer, cellular-based telephone entry systems.
What is a cellular telephone entry system?
A cellular telephone entry system is a multi-tenant intercom that allows residents to use their cell phones to communicate with visitors and grant property an access control system to guests.
The cellular telephone entry system improves traditional telephone entry systems by using cellular networks instead of physical landlines. Many cellular telephone entry systems are modified landline entry systems.
Landline and cellular telephone entry systems function in the same way. They are both designed to enable a tenant to grant property access to their visitor at their core. The difference between the two systems is their connection: one is based on cellular signals, and the other occurs through a landline.
Let’s go over a bit of intercom terminology to help us fully understand the differences between cellular telephone entry systems and landline entry systems.
Access Control Models
Access Control Models
Access control plays an essential role in the security of many businesses by allowing personnel to restrict or grant access to specified locations or resources. Currently, there are four primary types of access control models: mandatory access control (MAC), role-based access control (RBAC), discretionary access control (DAC), and role-based access control (RBAC). Each model outlines different levels of permissions and how they are assigned. To learn more about the four main types of access control for businesses and determine which ones best suit your company’s needs, continue reading.
Consider one of the most crucial assets in a company, and access control systems hold significant value. The term ‘access control’ refers to “the control of access to system resources after a user’s account credentials and identity has been authenticated, and access to the system has been granted.” Access control is used to identify a subject (user/human) and authorize the issue to access an object (data/resource) based on the required task. These controls are used to protect resources from unauthorized access. Three main types of access control systems are Discretionary Access Control (DAC), Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), and Mandatory Access Control (MAC).
Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
Discretionary access control is the least restrictive type of access control. Under this system, individuals are granted complete control over any objects they own and any programs associated with such entities. The individuals can then determine who has access to their things by programming security level settings for other users.
DAC is a type of access control system that assigns access rights based on rules specified by users. The principle behind DAC is that subjects can determine who has access to their objects. The DAC model takes advantage of using access control lists (ACLs) and capability tables. Capability tables contain rows with ‘subject’ and columns containing ‘object.’ The security kernel within the operating system checks the tables to determine if access is allowed. Sometimes a subject/program may only have access to read a file; the security kernel makes sure no unauthorized changes occur.
This popular model is utilized by some of the most popular operating systems, like Microsoft Windows file systems.
Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
RBAC, also known as non-discretionary access control, is used when system administrators assign rights based on organizational roles. It presents an opportunity for the organization to address the principle of ‘least privilege.’ That gives individuals the access needed to do their job since the key connects to their job.
In these systems, predefined roles are associated with specific permissions. Because of its simplicity, this type of access control system is one of the most popular forms used in businesses. However, RBAC does have some drawbacks. For example, RBAC can’t grant one-time permissions when an exception to the standardized licenses is necessary.
Windows and Linux environments use something similar by creating ‘Groups.’ Each group has individual file permissions. Each user is assigned to groups based on their work role. RBAC sets access based on roles. That is different from groups since users can belong to multiple groups but only be assigned one role. Example roles are accountants, developers, among others. An accountant would only gain access to resources that an accountant would need on the system. That requires the organization to constantly review the role definitions and have a process to modify roles to segregate duties. If not, role creep can occur. Role creep is when an individual is transferring to another job/group, and their access from their previous job stays with them.
Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
Mandatory access control is widely considered the most restrictive access control model in existence. This type of access control allows only the system’s owner to control and manage access based on the settings laid out by the system’s programmed parameters. Such parameters can’t be altered or bypassed. The end-user doesn’t have control over any of the permissions or privileges. They can only access points that the system owners allow them to access. Because of its high level of restriction, MAC is usually used for facilities or organizations that require maximum security, such as government facilities.
Considered the strictest of all levels of access control systems, the government commonly uses the design and implementation of MAC. It uses a hierarchical approach to control access to files/resources. Under a MAC environment, access to resource objects is held by the settings defined by a system administrator. That means access to resource objects is governed by the operating system based on what the system administrator configured in the settings. Users can’t change access control of a resource. MAC uses “security labels” to assign resource objects to a system. There are two pieces of information connected to these security labels: classification (high, medium, low) and category (specific department or project – provides “need to know”). Each user account is also assigned classification and category properties. This system provides users access to an object if both properties match. Suppose a user has high classification but is not part of the category of the thing. In that case, the user cannot access the object. MAC is the most secure access control system but requires considerable planning and high system management due to constantly updating things and account labels.
Other than the government’s implementation of MAC, Windows Vista-8 used a variant of MAC with what they called, Mandatory Integrity Control (MIC). This MAC system added integrity levels (IL) to process/files running in the login session. The IL represented the level of trust the object would have. Subjects were assigned an IL level, which was set to their access token. IL levels in MIC were: low, medium, high, and system. In that system, access to an object was prohibited unless the user had the same level of trust. Windows limited the user not to being able to write or delete files with a higher IL. This system took advantage of the Windows DAC system ACLs. It first compared IL levels, then checked the ACLs to ensure the correct permissions were in place. It combined it with integrity levels to create a MAC environment.
Rule-based access control
The last of the four main types of access control for businesses is rule-based access control. This system assigns or denies user access based on dynamic rules and limitations defined by the owner or system administrator. Such rules may limit access based on several unique situations, such as the individual’s location, the time of day, or the device being used. The ability to customize rules and permissions makes RBAC an ideal form of access control for businesses that require a dynamic security solution.
What is Web based access?
What is Web based access?
First, what is web-based access control? Web-based access systems connect all security devices via an internet connection and allow users to manage the system using a web-based interface. That eliminates the complex software installations on an onsite server necessary for a traditional, “client-based” access control system.
Moreover, implementing web-based access control solutions is significantly more straightforward because there is no need to install complex server equipment onsite.
That means that all web-based access control solutions share several immediate benefits compared with traditional client-based systems:
- High initial costs for servers and related infrastructure spending are eliminated.
- Installing web-based systems takes less time and is easier to scale to include further sites
- Browser-based software is upgraded automatically by the vendor, so end users don’t need to worry about updates
- Systems are less complex to maintain on the front end, so end users require less intensive systems training to manage web-based systems effectively
Type 1: For single or temporary sites
That is the most straightforward variation of a web-based access control solution and is most suited for single sites with few access control doors.
This type of solution makes electronic access control system accessible to small sites without incurring significant capital investment. Specific solutions on the market today offer support for up to 30 doors and 5000 user credentials.
One-off sporting and music event venues may also make effective temporary use of this kind of system.
Type 2: For more significant high-security sites
Even though this solution also uses the internet to connect the system, all system data is kept on a dedicated onsite server on one of the client’s sites.
This solution is ideal for larger organizations with strict security standards for data storage. It allows data from multiple sites to connect to a single server while allowing users to manage all data onsite.
Typical solutions on the market allow users to manage 1000 doors through their web browser and add up to 500 000 users per control panel.
Type 3: Data hosted on the "Cloud"
In the last type of web-based access control system, all data is hosted externally on dispersed data centers provided by the solution vendor. That eliminates geographical constraints on expanding companies’ security systems and provides users with comprehensive data redundancy measures.
This type of solution allows multiple users to share the same data management infrastructures in the same way as an electric power utility. That enables end-users to share costs and pay according to how much they use the vendor’s facilities, bringing considerable cost-saving opportunities.
While web-based access control systems often represent a superior value-proposition to traditional systems, there are several potential disadvantages to bear in mind. First, all web-based solutions are too dependent on network stability. That means that systems in specific geographic locations may share the same vulnerabilities as the regional network infrastructure required to use. Data security is also a significant issue for web-based access control, even for users that manage security system data onsite. Therefore, users must take precautions to implement firewalls, VPNs, and other measures to protect their web-based systems.
Many internet-based access control solutions on the market today still need to expand their integration capabilities with other systems such as building management, fire security, and mapping systems before becoming a viable addition to a company’s facility management systems.
Lastly, many companies may find that strict global corporate security standards. It will limit their scope for deploying relatively new technologies like internet-based access control systems. Though this will no doubt change as the technology becomes more established and widely adopted.
So is internet-based access control the same as "cloud-based" security?
Many security professionals will no doubt be aware of another security technology buzzword: “cloud-based security” or “security as a service (SaaS).” In comparison, cloud-based security solutions are indeed all IP-based. It is important not to assume that internet-based access control solutions are all cloud based access control. Some solutions sell internet-based hardware, including dedicated server devices specific to the individual client. On the other hand, accurate cloud-based access control security solutions make their data management infrastructures available as continuous service. Host their data on an indeterminate number of servers shared by multiple users. We will explore the range of cloud-based security services currently available in a future article.
Introduction to Cloud-Based Access Systems
New technology is modernizing and improving access control system as the security industry expands to keep up with modern businesses’ needs. While access control solutions are still satisfactory for many companies, cloud based access control systems are growing steadily. Many access control experts predict a sharp increase in the number of customers who will request cloud based systems in the next few years, but why? Isn’t all access control designed the same way?
While they may seem small, the differences will have enormous implications for the security industry in the future. Learning about them now can help businesses transition to these new systems and make the switch even easier for access control companies. Some of the most prominent features to look out for in these new cloud based systems include:
CONVENIENCE FOR USERS
One of the main benefits of cloud based access control is how quick and easy it is to set up. Overall, these systems are more streamlined, which helps speed up installation, and intuitive, which helps companies adjust and learn them quickly. They also make access control more accessible; if a system is easy enough to use, anyone in the office can interact with it daily. No training sessions are necessary. In addition, many companies that offer cloud based access control also provide free remote tech support. So, managers and employees can troubleshoot and update their systems without needing technicians to be physically present. Finally, customers can use their mobile phones to access a system instead of a physical key card. Meaning no more lost or stolen cards that need replacing –yet another added convenience.
Over time, cloud based access control systems have proven to be cheaper for the customer. Many of the features listed above already contribute to lower costs (for example, not having to buy new vital cards every so often). The cloud based system can automatically update itself every time the access control security company releases new software at no extra cost. There are no routine maintenance appointments to schedule and pay for. There is also no need to redesign a cloud access control, even if a company triples in size. These systems are scalable and can be easily adjusted to handle any number of employees without rewiring an entire setup. Not only is this good news for customers, but it’s also great news for integrators. These extra services are no longer necessary, proving that the features in a cloud based system aren’t just cost-effective – they’re time-effective, too.
At first glance, a cloud based system may not seem more secure than current access control systems. Who guards the data up there? Isn’t it easier to hack? These questions are valid, but cloud based systems have been proven to store data safely and securely. Instead of on a local server, a company’s data is stored on a secure remote server up in the cloud. Managers and employees can access the database from anywhere via their mobile phones. The information itself is backing up, meaning that if the cloud server were ever to crash, the data would remain safe. This extra layer of security can provide both customers and installers with peace of mind in times of emergency or a power outage. Additionally, if a security breach does happen, having data in the cloud makes it easier to retrieve. The company can access analytics faster than ever to identify where the infringement occurred and fix it.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CUSTOMIZATION
Cloud based access control makes customizing your system more accessible than ever. A business with more than one location can monitor every site from one device using one infrastructure. There’s no need to set up servers in each building or spend time installing more costly hardware. Customers can also personalize their security reports. Many cloud based systems offer the option to send texts or other alerts when systems detect suspicious activity, such as increased traffic through a particular door. When setting up their plans, companies can install products that mesh well with their specific security goals. For example, suppose the business prioritizes activity logs and grants or denies individuals access to particular rooms. In that case, the design of their security system can reflect those goals. Companies can also integrate many software solutions they already use into their systems, which helps further smooth the transition into using cloud-based technology. Many systems also offer the ability to designate different levels of control to other people within an organization. All these options make cloud based access control easy to customize and simple to use in the workplace.
ASSISTANCE IN COMPLYING WITH REGULATIONS
A cloud based access control ability to regularly update itself means a business’s security is always modern and state-of-the-art. Suppose a company needs to submit access logs or other data periodically. In that case, a cloud based system makes that information easy to find and transmit. Also, automating security processes, like granting or denying access, can help with onboarding and terminating employees. Streamlining the onboarding process means businesses stay compliant. By ensuring the termination process goes smoothly, companies prevent potential human resource disasters from occurring.
Slowly but surely, customers are gravitating toward access control system companies that offer these new features in their systems. Cloud based systems solve problems in the workplace and the security industry – they can increase collaboration between employees and make it easier for customers to communicate with integrators. Installing and maintaining a cloud based system requires fewer person-hours. That means access control security companies can raise their prices, makes the access control market more competitive, and create job security. While the transition can seem awkward at times, shifting to cloud based systems is proving to be a better idea for businesses and access control companies alike.
PROVIDES STRATEGIC VALUE
Since cloud based systems are growing in popularity, businesses can use them as selling points to attract more customers. In addition, the added benefits of storing data in the cloud mean companies can devote more time and energy to other issues, which can give them a competitive edge. It is increasing collaboration, saving money, and reducing the number of headaches in a day. It can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and modernize their approach to customers as cloud based technologies become more mainstream. It will be easier for integrators to install and fix newer systems because most clients will already be on the same page.
9 Best Cloud-Based Access Control Systems
4. Openpath 5. SALTO KS 6. Genetec
7. STANLEY Security 8. S2 9. Millennium
PROXIMITY CARD READERS
Types of proximity card readers
While many proximity readers may look the same, they can function very differently depending on their power supply and connecting back to the access control system. There are four common types of proximity card readers available for access control. When installing proximity card readers, it’s essential to know which class provides the best security for your space.
Wired proximity card readers
The most common type of proximity card reader used in commercial HID access control applications, wired prox card readers include Weigand readers and RS-485 readers. Because they communicate using the Wiegand protocol, they are compatible with almost every type of access control system. However, the Wiegand protocol has been around since the 1970s, which means it’s more prone to hacking. To ensure proximity card readers using a Wiegand protocol are secure, choose readers with advanced end-to-end encryption and additional protections against tampering, such as the RS-485 readers from Openpath. These standard prox card readers sometimes include different options and usually support some combination of RFID, Bluetooth (BLE), or NFC formats.
Wireless proximity readers
Wireless proximity readers are battery-powered to eliminate the need to wire back to a control panel. They are most often used for large deployments in hotels and apartment complexes where it would be cost-prohibitive to wire each door. They usually require localized access points throughout the building to communicate with an Internet-connected central control panel. One of the downsides of this type of proximity card reader is checking and replacing batteries to ensure proper functionality.
Standalone proximity card readers
These decentralized card readers are limited in functionality as they do not connect back to a control panel. Because they have no data connection, they cannot be managed or programmed remotely, which is why they often include a PIN pad. When installed on the unsecured side of the door, they’re also prone to tampering and hacking, as they store sensitive user and credential access control data locally. These proximity card readers are best-suited for small internal deployments that won’t need added security features, such as a supply closet.
IP-connected proximity readers
This more advanced reader has no direct connection between the reader and controller. The Ethernet connection allows them to integrate into IT systems for a more automated, flexible security system. However, it’s important to note that this type of system should meet high-level encryption and cybersecurity standards to ensure your space is secure. If your IP is compromised, your building security is also at risk.
Benefits of proximity card readers for access control
There’s a good reason why proximity card readers are so familiar with offices and commercial spaces worldwide. First, they are reasonably simple to implement. Proximity card reader technology has been around for decades. People are familiar with using them, so they require little training or ramp-up time once installed.
Proximity cards can also provide a contactless access experience. Unlike swipe cards, prox cards don’t need to be inserted into or swiped through a reader to work. The proximity card has a metallic antenna coil embedded inside that holds encoded data. The proximity card readers use an electromagnetic field to detect nearby cards and transmit data through the reader to the HID access control panel. The control panel sends a signal back to the reader to trigger a door unlock if the card is authorized. You can also use proximity technology in critical fobs, clamshell cards, or stickers. That is great for implementing touchless technology to create healthier spaces.
Proximity card systems can provide businesses with trackable entry activity and data analytics for their space depending on the access control software. A cloud-based access control platform like Openpath will give the most flexibility, giving administrators and facilities teams remote access to manage their HID access control system from anywhere.
Security concerns and pitfalls of proximity card readers
As with any good physical security measure, your proximity card reader needs to be secure and reliable. A well-known legacy access control system may seem like an intelligent choice. Still, because this technology has been around for many decades, there are some security vulnerabilities to be aware of. When looking at how someone would compromise a proximity reader, there are a surprising number of exposures. For example, almost anyone could hack an HID proximity card reader with a device purchased online. If your proximity card reader has any of the following vulnerabilities, it’s time to upgrade.
- Short read range — The read range is the distance the reader can detect a nearby credential. The read range will vary by device. Distance is an important consideration when installing a security system. For example, a turnstile or front door should have a shorter read range so that people need to be close to the reader to request an unlock. That will help prevent tailgating incidents. However, for parking garage deployments, the read range needs to be farther to account for vehicle size and users’ credentials to communicate with the reader from inside the vehicle.
- Hackable backend hardware — Door access readers are unfortunately a popular target for criminals who want to steal data and vandalize businesses. One thing to keep in mind when installing new readers is backward compatibility. Suppose you’re running your security system on outdated legacy backend hardware. In that case, even the most advanced prox card readers could be exposed to security vulnerabilities. One way to combat this on a hybrid access control system model is to use a system with end-to-end encryption at every level of communication, with extra protection against hardware hacking.
- Data stored locally — Some proximity readers store data at the local level, making it easy for potential criminals to gain access to it. This often-overlooked security pitfall could compromise your entire system. Openpath’s card readers are setting up as a blind proxy between the credential and control unit, so they offer no value to hackers looking for a way in. They also have built-in alerts against tampering.
- No backups or fail-safes — In the case of a power or Internet outage, a backup power source is essential to keeping your system up and running. Without a backup option or a failsafe protocol, people could be locking out of the building, or the doors could remain unlocked without you even knowing. Make sure your system offers offline functionality so you don’t get locked out in an emergency and a way to connect to an alternative power source or backup battery.
- Key cards are quickly coping — Key cards are one of the most widely used access methods for businesses worldwide. However, some key fobs and cards pose a serious security risk. Like those with low-frequency HID proximity card readers, they can easily copy many standard vital cards with a $10 device. Instead, look for systems that offer more secure prox cards. Openpath uses DESFire EV1 128-bit AES cryptographic cards with digitally signed identifiers. They provide the most robust encryption and security available, with no publicly known vulnerabilities.
Planning, costs, and installation for proximity card readers
There are a surprising amount of factors that go into choosing the right access control system for your space. When it comes to finding a proximity card reader that works for your building, an HID access control installer will look at the locks on your doors. The wiring needed for the system, the amount of space you have, and other desired security features before installing new readers.
Door locking mechanisms
Not all HID access control providers are compatible with all door locks. However, proximity card readers are designed to work with the electric, wired locking mechanisms common in most commercial spaces. Your access control system installer will tell you what type of security systems are compatible. If you’re starting construction from scratch, consult a security expert to get the best door locks installed in your building.
Mounting specs for prox readers
One of the things an HID access control consultant will check before recommending a product is the space required to install your desired prox card reader. Depending on your area, some proximity card readers may not fit, especially if you’re working with a narrow doorway. Aesthetics are also something to consider at this time. The incumbent HID proximity readers can look bulky and dated in a modern office environment. Openpath Smart Readers are award-winning for their sleek, elegant design, which can be mounted flush with the wall to blend right into your space. The Openpath readers come in Standard size and a slimmer Mullion option for space-saving installation.
One of the top concerns with upgrading an existing system is having to rip and replace all the old wiring for the new hardware when it comes to HID access control. One of the benefits of proximity card readers like Openpath’s Smart Readers is standard wiring architecture. That means installation is quick and straightforward and won’t require tearing out the existing wiring. Not all proximity card readers use standard wiring, so it’s essential to work with an integrator when planning your access control installation to understand the full scope of the project.
Proximity card reader cost
It’s essential to have a budget in mind before you start an access control project. The cost of your system will depend on your existing infrastructure, how many readers you need, and the type of credentials you choose. Remember that crucial cards can be costly to maintain, and you’ll need to order replacement cards frequently. Choose a product designed to be future-proof with a more flexible reader that can accommodate different access methods (like mobile credentials) and connect to other building systems. You’re less likely to need to replace the system every few years to keep up with the most recent security developments.
Is a proximity card reader system suitable for your space?
Proximity card readers are an excellent choice for commercial spaces that need convenient, contactless access control. A proximity reader system allows you to secure office spaces, lobby turnstiles, and parking garages with modern access control solutions.
Before deciding on a system, ask yourself what is most important for your building security. If you want a combination of mobile access control credentials and prox cards, ensure the proximity readers you choose can support flexible credential types. Openpath offers encrypted DESFire EV2 access cards, which can be used alongside convenient mobile credentials; plus, Openpath is backward compatible with many legacy access cards. That means that once you install Openpath Smart Readers, you won’t have to re-issue new prox cards to your entire organization.
Additionally, security experts recommend HID access control solutions that run on a cloud platform, which is often more secure and easier to manage remotely. Openpath’s cloud-based access control software ensures a smooth transition, seamlessly integrating with leading directory management platforms to sync users automatically. Plus, the remote platform allows admins to issue or revoke credentials at any time instantly.
Schedule a site walk with a security expert if you’re thinking about installing a proximity card reader with an access control system for your space. They’ll perform a security audit, evaluate your area, and identify where and what type of system is best for you. Contact the security experts at Openpath today to get started with a custom price quote.