From San Francisco to Miami, retail businesses across the United States have been closing locations in part because of theft. But while some businesses have elected to permanently close their doors, others are hardening their access control. Physical access control for businesses is an important part of maintaining security and safety. Though it can be complicated, small businesses and retail enterprises benefit from choosing the proper access control system. In this article, we’ll break down why implementing an access control system is essential, and the options you have when creating an optimal setup.

Understanding Access Control for Business

Physical access control refers to the process of granting or restricting entry of individuals to specific areas within an office building. By implementing access control measures, businesses can prevent unauthorized access, safeguard sensitive information and ensure the physical security of their premises.

Traditional access control systems include physical measures like metal locks and keys. However, electronic access control systems take this technology a step further. These systems utilize key cards (sometimes referred to as access cards or smart cards) or mobile devices to grant entry based on access credentials and access rights. These smart devices interact with smart locks or card readers at an entrance.

Though your access control can take many different forms, it’s important to understand your options and why it’s crucial to establish an access control plan.

Why is Access Control Security Important for Businesses

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 56% of small businesses in the United States experienced theft in 2022. While access control helps businesses combat theft, it does much more. Some of the benefits of a cloud-based access control system, include:

  • Automating the provisioning of credentials
  • Providing detailed data (e.g., time and frequency) of ingress and egress
  • Remote troubleshooting and unlocking doors while away from the premises
  • Creating advanced emergency plans

Cloud-based access control systems also centralize several other parts of a security system. With API integrations, IT and security teams can connect these systems with little more than a string of numbers. One common integration is between access control and identity management platforms such as Okta and Azure AD. Once integrated, system administrators can automate the adding and removing of credentials. For example, if an employee is terminated and subsequently removed from the business’s identity management platform, they will automatically be removed from the access control platform.

Likewise, video management systems like Cisco Meraki and Rhombus Systems integrate with cloud-based access control. Video management integrations allow teams to sync door access events with video surveillance feeds within a single pane of glass. When access is attempted IT and security teams can preview video of the incident from the same window on their computer. Access control allows businesses to secure, plan, manage and monitor their facilities with optimal efficiency and speed.

Deciding on an Access Control Protocol

Before settling on an access control provider, the person responsible for your business’s security must thoroughly define its goals. This should include which access control protocol to implement.

Types of access control for businesses fall into three categories:

  • Discretionary Access Control- Discretionary access control is a means of restricting access to objects (areas) based on the identity of subjects and/or groups to which they belong. This is the least restrictive protocol.
  • Mandatory Access Control- Conversely, the most restrictive protocol is mandatory access control. Mandatory access control is used in high-security organizations like the government. In this protocol, a single administrator must grant every other user access rights.
  • Role-based Access Control- One of the most common access control protocols is role-based. As the name implies, role-based access control allows IT and security administrators to assign access privileges based on an individual’s job position within the company.

Deciding on a protocol early in the decision-making process helps businesses narrow their search for access control providers. Read our blog to learn more about these access control protocols.

  • Evaluating the Best Access Control Credential Types for Businesses

After deciding the protocol you wish to use, many companies will choose a credential type. The type of credential you decide to use depends upon several factors including:

  • Security Level: Assess the security requirements of your organization. Consider the sensitivity of the areas that need to be secured and the potential risks involved. Choose a credential type that provides an appropriate level of security to meet your needs. For example, high-security areas may require multi-factor authentication. Proximity cards or mobile devices may be suitable for areas with less strict requirements.
  • Scalability: Consider the size of your organization and its potential for growth. If you have a large number of employees or anticipate expansion, choose a credential type that can be easily issued, managed and revoked as needed.
  • Convenience: Evaluate the convenience factor for your employees or authorized personnel. Choose a credential type that is easy to use and doesn’t hinder their workflow. For instance, proximity cards, key fobs or mobile credentials are often convenient since they can be quickly presented to a reader. On the other hand, biometric credentials may require additional time for scanning or authentication.
  • Cost: Evaluate the cost implications of the different credential types. Consider not only the upfront cost of acquiring the credentials but also the long-term expenses associated with issuing, replacing and managing them. Remember to account for factors like maintenance, training, and any necessary upgrades to the access control system.
  • User Acceptance: Seek input from your employees regarding their preferences and concerns. Consider their feedback and try to choose a credential type that strikes a balance between security, convenience and user acceptance. Involving key stakeholders early in the decision-making process can increase overall satisfaction and user adoption.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose a credential type that aligns with your organization’s security needs.

Types of Access Control Credentials for Businesses

As mentioned in the previous section, the credential you choose depends on several factors. One of these factors is whether your business decides to use an on-premises or a cloud-based access control system (systems with servers stored away from the premises, usually by a third-party). The latter features a wide array of credential options. Below are some of the more common options.

  • Key card access control- physical cards with embedded electronic information to authenticate and authorize individuals for access to secured areas or resources.
  • Mobile access control- instead of carrying a physical access card, authorized individuals can store their access credentials digitally on their mobile devices. These credentials are securely encrypted and can be accessed using a dedicated mobile app. They may communicate with a door reader using NFC or Bluetooth technology. Mobile access control systems are a trending topic in the security industry.
  • Biometric access control- authenticates and authorizes people based on their physiological attributes such as fingerprint, face recognition, retina and palm. The main purpose of biometric access control is to restrict unauthorized users from accessing protected resources.

Curious to learn more about credentials for access control? Genea has many resources dedicated to comparing and contrasting credential types and the technology they use. Learn more about different access control credentials, here.

The Best Access Control for Businesses

Access control is beneficial whether operating an enterprise company or a small business. While Genea is proud to claim we have the best business access control solution on the market, we realize you may need time to do research yourself. To help compare, we have listed some commonly sought after features.                                                                                                                                                                                        

  • Dozens of API integrations to easily centralize your security
  • Remote access control capabilities– Login to your access control dashboard and provision user credentials whether on site or away from your facility.
  • Intuitive dashboard– An easy-to-use dashboard gives you oversight into your entire access control system.
  • Robust product features– Genea includes practical custom roles, interactive floorplans, custom reporting, global dashboards and more.
  • 24/7/365 Customer Support

For more information about choosing an access control system for your businesses, please contact a Genea representative.

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