Why Access Control Solutions Are Vital for Your Business
Securing a company’s assets and data is paramount in today’s fast-paced business environment. Access control solutions play a critical role in this landscape, ensuring that only authorised individuals gain entry to specific areas or information within an organisation. Such systems protect against unwanted intrusions and keep confidential data in trusted hands.
This article provides a clear overview of access control systems and highlights their crucial role in modern business security.
What are Access Control Systems
Access control systems are security solutions that regulate who can view or use resources in a given environment. These systems can be applied to physical properties, such as buildings, rooms or storage areas and digital resources, such as computer networks, system files and data.
Access control systems identify, authenticate and authorise individuals to gain access based on predefined rules or credentials. This could involve hardware terminals such as:
- proximity card readers, which use a magnetic stripe or radio frequency chip to identify a user. They are the most used and are very easy to use.
- biometric readers. They use an individual’s physical characteristics, scanning an area that is unique to them, such as their fingertips, facial geometry or the eye’s iris. They are more secure than proximity cards, but more expensive due to the technology involved.
- keypad readers. They use a code for access. They are less secure than the above and require a code to be remembered.
- metallic stripe readers. They use a magnetic strip on a card.
- wireless readers. They use radio waves to communicate with the user’s device. Great for flexibility in areas where wired connections are not available.
The choice of terminal(s) will depend on the security required for the use case. If a highly secure area is required, then a biometric terminal will be most suitable. If cost is an important factor, then the others should be considered.
By implementing an access control system, organisations can ensure that only authorised individuals gain access to sensitive areas or data, thereby maintaining their resources’ integrity, confidentiality and security.
Why are they Important for Modern Businesses
Security and Protection
In an age where information is as valuable as physical assets, these systems protect tangible property and sensitive data that could be detrimental if they fall into the wrong hands. What’s more, unauthorised access can lead to theft, vandalism and unofficial corporate surveillance.
An efficient access control system minimises these risks, ensuring only authorised personnel can access restricted areas or classified information.
Accountability and Audit Trails
Access control systems provide an electronic log of who accessed which areas and at what time. This audit trail can be crucial in investigations, ensuring compliance with internal policies or regulatory requirements. The ability to review access records means businesses can maintain employee accountability and swiftly identify suspicious or unauthorised activities.
Keys can be lost, duplicated or misused, leading to frequent lock replacements or security breaches. Access control systems, on the other hand, can be easily updated or changed without significant costs, especially those based on keycards or biometrics.
Unlike keys, the system can be promptly updated if an employee leaves the company or loses their access card. This eliminates the additional expenses associated with rekeying or changing physical locks.
Access control systems can be integrated with lighting, heating and cooling systems. When individuals are present in a room, lights can be activated. They will turn off upon their departure, ensuring no energy is wasted by human error of leaving lights on unnecessarily.
In addition, when an area is unoccupied, temperatures can be modified to conserve energy. Automatically adjusting the temperature in spaces that aren’t in use significantly reduces carbon footprint and can save the business on their energy bills.
Enhanced Employee Safety
Access control systems prevent unauthorised individuals from entering the premises, reducing the risk of potential confrontations, thefts or more severe security incidents. Knowing that only authorised individuals are within the premises can give employees peace of mind, boosting their morale and productivity.
Convenience for Employees
Modern access control systems can integrate with other systems in a business, such as time-attendance systems. Allowing employees to use the same card or biometric information for access control solutions and time-attendance software can help make operations more efficient.
Additionally, businesses can set schedules on the system, automating access to certain areas based on the time of day, reducing manual oversight.
Different Types of Access Control
Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
Mandatory access control is a stringent approach where access rights are regulated by a central authority based on multiple classifications. This type of access control is commonly seen in high-security environments such as government and defence, financial institutions, tech companies, healthcare and aerospace industries.
Users with a specific clearance level can only access data that matches or is below their assigned classification. This disciplined approach ensures that sensitive information remains under strict oversight and can’t be easily shared or modified without appropriate clearance.
Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
Access control is not determined by a central authority – it is with the object’s owner or anyone else who is authorised to control access. Hence it is easier to set up, but it is less secure than MAC.
When enhanced with biometric technology, discretionary access control becomes a more advanced and flexible system where management can grant or revoke access to each entry point.
The system not only maintains an authorised user list but also incorporates biometric verifications like fingerprint or facial recognition. This ensures that specific doors within the premises are accessed solely by verified and official staff members. However, with this increased flexibility comes a level of risk if management access controllers are not diligent.
Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
Role-Based Access Control allows users with identical roles to have the same access rights. Organisations with clearly defined roles and responsibilities will benefit most from implementing this system. For example, staff at the hotel front desk can access the check-in system, while those in housekeeping, the bar and the kitchen cannot.
Location-Based Access Control (LBAC)
Location-based access control enhances security by adjusting access permissions according to defined geographical areas. This ensures that users can interact with data or undertake tasks only from approved locations, mitigating the risks of unauthorised access, especially in critical settings. From preventing significant financial dealings in non-secure places to protecting confidential data within an establishment’s boundaries, this control system provides a formidable line of defence.
Additionally, with the integration of biometric technology, it supports remote working. This approach ensures that businesses maintain strict and consistent security measures outside traditional office environments. Biometrics offer remote employees a harmonious blend of flexibility and heightened security, ensuring that only the right individuals have access regardless of their location.
Rule-Based Access Control
Rule-based access control determines whether access should be granted or denied based on specific rules and restrictions. For instance, the system may be programmed to allow employees access to the office or data information on certain days of the week. It can even block an employee’s access if their account expired.
Furthermore, using this system, management can monitor when employees access the office and pinpoint which zones they enter and at what times. It’s so effective that it can provide insight into how often someone tries to access a particular section and how often their access is denied.