The ABCs of Access Control


Last week I highlighted a couple of important access control best practices to consider as the year comes to a close.

These focused on selecting the appropriate card and reader technology based on your desired level of security, along with critical role that key management plays in maximizing the security of your access cards. There are a number of additional best practices that can help you in taking a well-rounded approach to assessing and optimizing your organizations security. Some of these include:

Protect the communications: The individual components of an access control system need to talk to each other to communicate card messages, audit data, cardholder privilege changes and much more. It is critical to protect both the communications medium - be it hard wired or wireless, and the actual data.

Use security screws: Always utilize security screws that require special tools to remove a reader and other security components. If the correct tool is not available, then it makes it nearly impossible for an intruder to remove the reader without causing damage to the screws. This noticeable damage may be may alert the administrator to an intrusion attempt.

Prevention using antipassback: Another best practice is to program the access control host software to refuse granting access to a cardholder that is already inside the facility, which will prevent a duplicate, fraudulent card from entering the facility.

Use additional factors of authentication: Multiple factors of authentication consisting of something you have (a card), something you know (a password), and something you are (a biometric) increases the probability that the card user is who they say they are. A relatively inexpensive second factor is a password that can be added using card readers with built-in keypads.

Mind the cards: A perpetrator may fraudulently obtain cards to access a building by using lost cards and/or purchasing cards through the gray market or even legitimate resellers. Proprietary card formats offered by an OEM or using one that is exclusive to a particular facility is an effective best practice.

Detection - the second line of defense: Purchase readers with a tamper detect mechanism that provides a signal when the reader has been removed from the wall. Almost every panel manufacturer provides the ability to monitor this alarm signal and report when a reader is tampered with.

I discuss these best practices and more in the recent Access Control - Best Practices whitepaper. Download it today for a comprehensive review of these guidelines and how they can help your organization effectively balance cost, convenience and security when deploying an access control system. I hope these tips help you in preparing for a safe and productive New Year!