What is Electronic Access Control?

Over the past few years, enterprises have been adopting a wide range of technologies to increase physical security at their workplaces. Electronic access control is one of the latest technologies that has changed the way IT and security teams monitor the access activities and provision employees.

Electronic access control is a technology that involves using access control hardware and software in the place of traditional lock and key. Today, electronic access control systems make use of keypads, biometrics, RFID technology, mobile credentials and more to validate the identity of people before giving them access to a building or a facility.

In this post, we’ll explain the pros and cons of the top six types of electronic access control systems that businesses can adopt to secure their properties.

Pros and Cons of 6 Types of Electronic Access Control

Here are six common types of electronic access control:

  1. Key card access control
  2. Keypad access control
  3. Mobile or smartphone-based access control
  4. Discretionary access control
  5. Role-based access control
  6. Mandatory access control

Let’s look at the pros and cons of these systems.

1. Key Card

Key fob and key card access control use small plastic devices to store access credential information. This plastic card communicates with credential readers by using Bluetooth or near-field communication. It stores digital credentials in the form of an electronic code on a magnetic stripe or RFID microchip. The card reader takes the digital code on the key card and relays the information to the controller for the verification of the user’s identity.  

Pros of key fob and key card access control

  • It is easy to use and increases convenience for users.
  • It restricts unauthorized access to the building.
  • It facilitates touchless access control for the users.

2. Keypad

Keypad access control uses a keypad installed near the door. Users type their access or PIN code on the keypad to gain access to the facility. The keypad communicates with the controller, which validates the PIN and sends the signal back to unlock the door. Depending on the security requirements, enterprises can assign 4-, 5- or 6-digit access codes to users.

 Pros of keypad access control

  • Users don’t need to carry a physical card to authenticate their identity.
  • It reduces plastic usage as an environmentally-friendly option.
  • It is easy for security admins to generate and distribute codes.

Cons of keypad access control

  • It raises hygienic issues. Since keypads are one of the most touched devices, contamination can easily spread infections.
  • Since users forget access codes frequently, security teams may receive large volumes of requests to reset passcodes daily in large-scale enterprises.

3. Mobile or Smartphone-based

Mobile or smartphone access control uses NFC or BLE-enabled credentials to unlock doors. Once the smartphone-based access control system is in place, it is easier for security admins to set up and distribute mobile credentials to users.   

For instance, Genea Security facilitates this process in three simple steps:

  1. Security teams assign mobile keys to users using Genea’s access control dashboard.
  2. Users will download the Genea Security app through the email they receive from the security administrator.
  3. Users will validate their identity on the application by providing the required information.

Once these three steps are completed, users will be ready to use their mobile phones near the access reader to unlock doors.

Pros of mobile access control

  • It makes things easier for users because they don’t have to carry around extra keycards.
  • It facilitates multi-factor authentication (MFA) to provide a high level of security to properties.
  • It is budget-friendly — enterprises don’t need to invest in key cards and key fobs anymore.

Cons of mobile access control

  • Users may still be skeptical of using their personal cellphone for business-related purposes
  • Security administrators need to generate new access control credentials each time a user changes the mobile phone.

4. Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary access control is a protocol that grants or prohibits user access to suites, rooms and other parts of a building. With DAC, the user identity is represented by credentials, which often take the form of physical key fobs, cards, mobile keys or a combination of username and password.

DAC is a widely used access control model that allows users to access areas with the same level of access to other users based on their discretion.

Pros of DAC

  • It is user-friendly and easy to implement for enterprises of all sizes.

Cons of DAC

  • It isn’t suitable for high-level security organizations.
  • Security administrators may find it difficult to keep track of who has access to what.

5. Role-based Access Control (RBAC)

RBAC is an access control model that involves granting or rejecting access to users based on their role, authority, and competency. For instance, an employee working in the finance department may have access to his department and other common areas, but not to server rooms or electricity rooms. Security administrators often use designations such as management role scope, management role group and management role assignment to provide access to users.

Pros of RBAC

  • It significantly increases the security of the property and other critical assets.
  • It makes sure users have the access to only facilities necessary to perform their daily job duties.
  • It improves operational efficiency and compliance.

Cons of RBAC

  • Creating and assigning roles can be time-consuming for security teams.
  • In the case of role expansion, security teams may find it difficult to translate user requirements to roles.

6. Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

MAC is a popular access control that restricts resource owners from granting or restricting access to other users. It ensures every user strictly uses access credentials provided by security administrators to unlock doors. In this type of access control, resource owners and users will not have the ability to alter access permissions assigned by the administrator.

Pros of MAC

  • It makes the building highly secure.
  • It ensures the entire access control system is under the control of administrators.

Cons of MAC

  • It needs constant effort from administrators to keep the access control list up to date.
  • Setting up and running the system can be time-consuming.  
  • It is not operationally flexible for both administrators and users.

Genea is Your Electronic Access Control Solution

Enterprises should choose a suitable physical access control system that can enhance user convenience while providing the utmost security to critical assets at the building.

Genea is a leading cloud-based access control provider for healthcare, hospitality, education and commercial real estate companies around the world. We provide:

  • 24/7/365 customer support.
  • Integrations with third-party systems with simple API tokens.
  • Compatible with all major non-proprietary access control devices such as door locks and turnstiles from brands such as HID, Mercury Systems and STiD.
  • Customizable access reports that facilitate audit trails.
  • Remote access management that enables real-time monitoring of access points at any time of day. 

Want to learn more about Genea Security? Book a demo.

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