Organizations requiring a higher security level began replacing their locks and keys with electronic card-based access control systems. The system has remained the favourite medium for employee credentials. However, as technology evolved so did these systems.
The most important problem with card-based technology is that they may not work in different facilities. A card providing employees access to a New York office may not work at corporate buildings in California. So better technology to tackle the issue is the need of the hour.
Biometrics offers a convenient, prompt and accurate solution for any facility size or type. These all are virtually impossible with a biometric attendance machine – such as an iris pattern, facial shape or fingerprint which is part of a person. These technologies are highly accurate and eliminate the need to carry a card or remember a passcode. Many mission-critical facilities already use biometric readers in conjunction with card-based systems as part of a two-factor identity authentication process.
Employees may be recognized at any company facility following a one-time enrolment into a biometric database. Accessing a door using biometrics takes a second – about the same as required for a card-based system. In addition, like card-based access control, the biometric device software may limit which doors, days and times an employee may enter.
A biometric access control system can provide a card-free, end-to-end solution that bridges an organization’s physical and logical security needs.
Biometric systems integrate with video surveillance and other security systems. Also, biometric readers serve as employee time and attendance functions. However, unlike cards, they eliminate a payroll fraud known as buddy punching in which one employee uses another person’s credentials to clock in for an absent person. With iris and facial recognition systems, employees never come into contact with readers. Identity authentication takes place at distances of a foot or more. Biometric technologies are also easily scalable. India’s national identity program, used for employment, passports, social services, banking and other activities, has more than one billion people enrolled in an iris-based system.
Biometric readers are also challenging to spoof through built-in liveness detection. This largely eliminates identity authentication based on photographs, prosthetics and even amputated digits and eyeballs.
Smartphones are another potential card-killer as virtually all employees now carry smartphones. Use of the technology has been proven by the hospitality industry, which for years has enabled frequent hotel guests to bypass the front desk and go directly to their room using a smartphone to open the door.
On the job, workers receive an email containing an app with the data required to turn a smartphone into a virtual key. The phone communicates with the readers using an encrypted Bluetooth signal. The process also accommodates visitors, enabling them to directly enter pre-approved doors without registering at the front desk. Visitor credentials may be set to expire as the person leaves.
Smartphones offer several security safeguards. People don’t generally lend their phones, loaded with personal information, to another employee.
The costs of mobile credentialing are predictable with organizations paying only for credentials in use. Unlike plastic cards, mobile credentials may be remotely deactivated, issued, transferred and reused. This makes the technology a more sustainable choice. Adding new features and functions only require a wireless upload to the phone’s app and access readers.
The response ranges of mobile credentials are customizable. Some organizations prefer a hands-free solution that enables employees to keep their phones in a pocket or bag while entering pre-authorized doors. Other facilities may want the mobile credential to be presented near a single reader.
And there’s no reason the migration from cards has to be an all-or-nothing process. Organizations may begin adding biometric readers at doors to highly sensitive areas. New hybrid readers support mobile credentials as well as magnetic stripe, proximity and chip-based smart cards.
A new generation of access control credentials are proven and available. Options providing higher levels of contactless security, convenience and long-term cost savings are available with Screencheck, one of the trusted biometric solution providers in the Middle East. Decades ago, a better solution pushed aside key-based locks. It’s time now to do the same with the access control card.