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Access Control Systems Types and Categories

10/23/2012 12:04:00 PM by Raleigh Locksmith

People have used different types of access control systems over the centuries. For example, ancient kings relied on “bouncers” to restrict people who could get near them. The most common type of access control in both homes and businesses is the door lock system. However, technological advancements have led to sophisticated access control systems. Categories of Access Control Systems While there are many types of access Control Systems, they are grouped into two major categories: • Physical access control systems are used to restrict access to assets or property. Modern systems maintain logs of people who enter specific areas at given times. • Digital access control systems are applied in Information Technology to protect valuable data. They use different authentication methods to provide access to computers, servers and mainframes among others, including formal business policies, encryption and passwords. Digital access control systems are always used in conjunction with physical access ones. Even if people cannot use computers, the information contained is still vulnerable if they can carry away the computers. Access Control System Types Different types of access control systems have been developed over the years. Here are the systems, starting from the earliest to the latest ones. Manual Locks and Keys Many homes and some businesses still rely on the use of physical keys to open door locks. Unfortunately, crooks have become quite adept at producing duplicate keys to gain unauthorized access into buildings. Electric Locks These access control systems were introduced in the 1950s. They use electric current to provide access via magnets, motors or solenoids. The locks may be installed as stand-alone systems or connected to electronic control assemblies. However, it did not take long for crooks to find ways of circumventing the electric locks. PIN Locks Introduced in the 1960s, PIN locks include keypads where authorized individuals key in their passwords to gain access. Soon people realized that the method was not as secure as initially thought, as the PINs could be stolen easily. The systems should only be used in rarely accessed areas that do not contain valuable assets. Smart Cards There are two main types of smart card locks: contact and contactless smart cards. Cardholders must insert the contact smart cards into card readers to gain access. As their name suggests, contactless smart cards do not rely on physical contact with readers, allowing quick access authorization. Tokens are single-use smart cards whose credentials expire once they have been used. Tokens often secure computer systems. Biometric Access Control Systems Biometric systems use specific human characteristics to grant access. They may use such features as voice, fingerprints, iris or retina, which must match the ones stored in their databases. They provide the strongest security because such features cannot be cloned. Any good access control system must make it difficult for unauthorized people to gain entry while providing the authorized individuals with fast and convenient access. Many systems combine two or more methods for extra security.


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