How Card Access Systems Prevent Business Security Breaches


One of the worst things that could happen to a business owner is having the entry system compromised, having records and files destroyed or having personal and business information fall into the wrong hands.

A business security breach is dreadful, causing much loss of time, finances and resources. An event that should never have to be experienced. Though, with ill-intentioned individuals this is sadly a risk that business owners must take the proper precautions to prevent. Implementing protection protocols is highly advised and that is why keycard access systems are becoming more prevalent in corporations to provide another layer of security.

A hidden camera system and an alarm installation connected to an alarm company are helpful to deter intruders and malicious activity, as well as to help capture perpetrators. An added layer of security is a keycard access system, also known as a control access system. The keycard access system is a control method to help ensure that those with the proper permissions will be the only ones accessing sensitive and classified materials and areas within the business.

The Keycard Access System Explained

The purpose of a keycard access system is to only allow authorized personnel to access the campus of your building, the building itself, and certain areas within the building. Businesses, doctor’s offices, schools, financial institutions, law offices and law enforcement agencies are examples of establishments that have information and records that are not meant for public viewing and are required to be secured and protected.

A keycard access system is designed for the business or entity to limit or grant access to confidential materials by way of a plastic card that is equipped with a magnetic strip or chip that is read by a card reader installed on each door. How this works is each card is encrypted with a credentialing code within the magnetic stripe or the chip. The card is either swiped and read by a swipe reader, inserted into an insert reader, or tapped onto the surface of a proximity reader. The electronic reader on the door must recognized the encryption of the card in order to grant access of entry to the individual.

Benefits of a Keycard Access System

Added Security

Keycard access systems are a big step up from the traditional lock and key protection system. Door locks are vulnerable to tampering and picking to gain access by intruders. Employees can keep keys or forget to turn them in if in the event they were terminated or resigned, thus requiring a lock changeover. Keys can fall into the hands of ill-intentioned individuals who could inflict harm to your organization.

Card entry systems are electronic and will only open when a recognized code with the proper permissions is placed in or on the reader. Through the use of a hidden camera system, an alarm system or with an alert on a mobile app from the keycard system stating that access was granted at an off-hour, a security company who is monitoring the premises or the business owner can disable access at any time they feel the organization is being threatened.

Along these lines, if an employee loses the keycard or is no longer with the company and still has possession of proximity cards, its permissions can be revoked to disable the magnetic stripe. This also saves time and money for the business owner and is more convenient and streamlined to implement.

Access and Security for Management and Employees

Smart cards have the utility of being reconfigured for different personnel and permissions. An employee may have received a promotion or needs to fill in for someone on vacation or sick. The custom badge can easily be recoded to allow certain permissions, as well as disable added permissions and other secure features.

Employees appreciate the small size and weight of the keycard opposed to holding multiple sets of keys to access different locations. A keycard can easily fit into a wallet or hang from a lanyard around the neck or on a retractable lanyard attached to the person for easy, lightweight access.

Employee Activity Can be Monitored

The keycard access system also provides an internal data log of which keycards, as assigned to each employee, has accessed certain areas on certain days and times. This is beneficial in the event that suspicious activity is suspected. A recording of activity is available to help investigate any unusual or alarming events.

Employee Access Can be Time Limited

As an added security measure, keycards can have a limited-access timestamp as well. This can restrict employees from accessing the building or certain areas within the building to specific hours of the day. This will help to limit any suspicious activity, as well as keep employees safe.

Control Access Systems Provide Multiple Services

If there is an emergency situation on the premises of the business, a control access unit has the functionality to put certain areas or the entire building on lock down to secure the area.

Another added benefit is that control access systems can be configured to adjust other features and amenities in the building, such as the lights, air conditioning and heating units. This decreases the overhead of the business and supports the well-being of the environment.

Your Options of Control Access Systems

As a business owner it is important to know your options and the value and risks of them all. There are two types of access control systems: Control Panel Systems and IP Systems.

  • The control panels are hardwired to the system’s equipment which offers a more secure option.

  • An IP system relies on a network connection via Ethernet or wireless, which offers a less secure option but provides the ability to install more door readers at a lesser cost than hardwired systems.

Per your company’s needs there are a few options for the type of access control system you may want to consider per the type of access restrictions that will be necessary.

  • A security access protocol that grants the same access permissions to all employees, known as Discretionary Access Control.

  • A security control access system that assigns specific allowance to areas on a per person basis is known as a Mandatory Access Control.

  • Specific positions or roles within the company that are granted access to areas based on their job’s descriptions and the duties to be performed, known as the Role Based Access Control.

How to Host your Control Access System

There are many options to host your control access system which will determine how the control system is managed and operated.

  • Using a computer on the premise of the business, the control access system can be locally-hosted and managed on site through that workstation

  • For more accessibility, a cloud-based system can also be utilized to manage the control access system from anywhere in or out of the building

  • The control access system can be managed through an app on a smartphone

  • The IoT (internet of things) system, which connects interrelated computer systems by way of unique identifiers to transfer data over a network without the need of an administrator to interact with the system

Keeping Your Business as Safe as Possible

Be aware that certain card access systems can be vulnerable to hackers. As revealed at a Black Hat Conference, a worldwide information security event focused on information security research, development and trends in the security community, hackers have found an inexpensive and easy way to copy keycard configurations to gain access to businesses.

It was stated that keycard access systems using the Wiegand protocol were deemed defenseless against hackers. As a business owner it is highly recommended to do complete research on keycard access systems that have the most security. Also, stay up to date on the latest “hacker advances” and security protocols to prevent them from happening in your business.

Ways to Protect Your Security Protocols

There are methods to ensure the continued safety and security of your business by staying proactive with the control access system.

One method is known as the anti-passback control. This configuration in the control system will disable a keycard from accessing the same area more than once. In other words, the card can’t get “passed back” to other persons to gain access. This is limited by not allowing the same card to be used more than once within a certain time frame, by requiring a detected exit before re-entry, and the badge must be used in a consecutive entry and exit manner (entering and exiting in the same building).

Be informed of what is going on in your building, review all security systems for evidence of tampering and check reports to see if anything unusual is detected. Staying informed with the security technology and protocols that are in place, and its effectiveness will keep you ahead of gaps that could allow for security breaches.

Maintain control over the control unit of the security systems. To prevent easy access for tampering, have all control units installed in secure locations.

There is always the option to hire a security consultant and perform yearly checks on the system. Your business is always changing, your security needs will change as well. A security consultant can help along the way and advise best practices for the security you need.

Knowledge is power. Employee orientation with security protocols and systems will let them know that you mean business for the safety of the company, its assets and the employees.

There are many benefits to installing a keycard access control system in your business, and of course, no system is perfect and will require education, updating or upgrading and monitoring to maintain the level of security that is desired.

Your Local Security and Protection Team at Your Service

B&W Fire Security Systems is in the business of keeping people and their possessions safe from destruction. Providing security measures for businesses is an important area that take seriously and work diligently to implement the best safety and security methods for individual needs.

B&W Fire & Security Systems offer many services to residential and commercial sites, with immense knowledge on fire protection, alarm installation, hidden camera systems, medical alert and safety monitoring companies, and more. Your protection is their priority!

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