Access Control Systems

Increase security with an access control system

Access control is the method of restricting admission to certain areas, resources or even electronic files. Physical access control systems manage entry into certain spaces, such as compounds, buildings or even specific rooms. Electronic access control software restricts access to computer networks, digital media or electronic files and records. In general, access control systems are used to ensure the safety and security of goods and information.

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How Access Control Security Systems Work

Today, most building security access control systems are electronic, consisting of a credential, a reader and a processor (also known as an "access control panel"). The credential may be information (such as a personal identification number (PIN), security code or password), a possession (such as a key or an access card) or a body part (such as a fingerprint or retina). This credential is scanned or entered into the reader, which in turn sends it to the processor, where it is compared against the access control list. If the input matches that of someone permitted in the area, access is granted. If it does not, the barrier—door, turnstile, gate, etc.—remains in place.

Why You Need an Access Control System

No matter what your business, you likely have resources (such as office or computer equipment) that you want to protect. An access control system allows you to limit who has access to these resources. This system can also help you protect your greatest resource—your employees—by keeping unwanted visitors out.

A secondary benefit of an access control system is the ability to track when and by whom resources were accessed. Depending on the system, employees may have unique identification codes and readers may store data, allowing you to trace employees' contact with restricted equipment or information. In the case of building access control systems, assigning individual access control cards will allow you to see when employees are entering and/or exiting the building, providing you a way to gauge punctuality, attendance and the number of hours spent at work.

What to Look for in an Access Control System

Access control systems can be very simple or very complicated. At the very least, you will want a lock and key for your business door, but most businesses with several employees find an electronic card or key fob system most effective. Biometric access control is incredibly secure (whereas someone can "borrow" a card, it'd be a lot harder to gain unauthorized control of someone else's hand or eyes), but these systems are also incredibly expensive. Thus, they tend to be reserved for extremely sensitive data or high-risk facilities.

Like so many other business decisions, the choice of access control system boils down to two main considerations: needs and budget. How important is it to control access to your building and/or specific areas of the building? How many people need access? How foolproof should this access be? In general, the more doors or areas that need securing, the more people who need access and the more foolproof the control has to be, the more expensive the system. That being said, consider the value of the resources, equipment or information you're protecting. In most cases, the cost of an access control system will pale in comparison.

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