What is access control?
Access Control Basics
Access control systems are a type of physical security which allow you to restrict or allow access to a building or a specific area within a building. Usually, they are installed to protect businesses and property from vandalism, theft, and trespassing. For example, they are especially useful in facilities that require higher security and protection. Therefore, physical barriers, like retaining walls, fences, etc. can be effective, but access control allow you to control how and when a person can gain entry.
The main components of an access control system include
Readers and/or keypads:
- At the access point, readers send the credential data to a control panel to authenticate the credential and request access. If using a keypad or biometric reader (such a fingerprint scan, facial ID, or retina scan), users will enter their PIN or complete a scan prior to obtaining access.
- The control panel receives data from the reader and verifies the validity of the credential. If approved, the control panel transmits to the access point via the access control server, and the door will unlock. If the data is not approved, the user will be denied entry.
Access control server:
- The server retains user data, access privileges, and audit logs. The server might be on-premises or managed in the cloud. The threat from hacking and security breaches requires that system maintenance and software updates be performed regularly.
What to look for in access control systems
Advancements in security technology, now affords many enhanced features and options in access control systems. Budgetary concerns should be factored in when choosing the type of credentials you’d like to use. Keycards are the most budget friendly choice, up front. However, the back end costs of keycards might end up costing you more over time. Keycards are frequently lost and require replacing which also poses a security threat, if the keycard ends up in the wrong hands. To increase the level of protection, you can purchase encrypted keycards or use two-factor authentication.
You should always add the consideration of maintenance and system management when planning an access control system. Many legacy systems use readers and on-site servers which require in-person management and maintenance. Older readers and slower system updates are prone to tampering. The need to access or update your system remotely, has become increasingly important. If this is the case for your business, a cloud-based platform should be considered.
With cloud-based access control, your access control hardware (readers, hubs and control boards) communicates with software via the cloud for a more flexible, scalable security solution.
- Remotely control your hardware including unlocks and lockdowns.
- Instantly creating and revoking credentials for users.
- Real-time notifications for access events and potential threats.
- Maintenance and troubleshooting without needing to be on-premises.
- Automatic system updates from the cloud. Keeping your security measures up-to date.
- Real-time audit trails for all access activity, which can be accessed from any authorized device.
- Integrate your access control system with other building security software, for example, video surveillance, communication tools, and space management solutions.