Efficiency and Security: Access Control Systems
A White Paper on access control systems by Pensees Singapore
Figure 1: Access control devices can range from keypads and locks to biometric scanners
1. What is Access Control/ an Access Control System?
2. How does an access control system work?
3. Access Control System: Applications
4. Use cases of access control in industries
6. Advantages of biometric technology access control
7. Disadvantages of biometric access control
8. Types of access control (In physical security)
9. Access control: Authentication and authorization
10. Access control: Market analysis
In the year of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused a disruption to many industries in Singapore. Singapore’s security sector has had to adapt to the disruption caused by the pandemic to stay competitive, according to The Straits Times. The virus outbreak has accelerated companies to adopt, and change to technology-based and manpower-light operations.
According to Tech Wire Asia, a study in 2021 has found that Singaporean businesses were more likely to adopt and adapt to technologies, and develop long-term strategies with technology implementation, compared to their Asian region counterparts over the past year. The study also showed the accelerated adoption of cloud solutions from companies, that seek ‘improved security, performance and reliability from cloud solutions’ to prepare for a digitalized workforce. This includes technologies such as AI to drive for better outcomes for leveraging data, which is a valuable asset.
What is access control/ an access control system?
Access control makes use of access control devices which are the hardware that the user physically interacts with. These devices impose the access rights, as part of the access control.
Access control is a regulation or selective restriction to who can enter and use resources in the context of a physical environment.
There are different types of access control.
Physical access control - as the name suggests, it controls limits to physical assets, including that of physical facilities such as buildings, and valuable IT assets.
Cyber access control limits to access or connections to computer data, networks, system files, and more.
For virtual data, Logical access control - Additionally, after authorization, additional processes like schedules and requirements grants the user appropriate level of access.
These complement two types of security - physical and information security.
Usually, most access controls are utilized in applications as a complete access control system to secure facilities.
How does an access control system work?
Figure 2: A physical access control system works through identification and authentication, and if necessary, authorization of the user.
For electronic access control, which are common today, readers are mostly used. This is the hardware placed at the point of entry, and it is used to recognize and read the input credentials before making a decision of whether to grant or refuse a request of access.
Physical access controls work with a physical barrier control. It controls the entry to a specific location. The physical barrier, which can be a security gate or door, can be manipulated/ accessed with any kind of method/ technique - from a PIN or password entry, recognition system, card detection, etc.
Physical access control systems (PACS) work by limiting access via identification. Identification and verification is needed for individuals to determine their level of access.
A biometric access control system identifies unique physical traits and features about the person. This can include the face structures, fingerprints, iris shape and more. The system identifies patterns, recognizes and compares the biometric information of users to an existing biometric database. Matching results would mean true identity, otherwise access may not be granted.
Access control: Applications
Figure 3: The 4 D’s of security. They are layered into 4 progressive areas to prevent and mitigate threats.
Access control systems have their greatest leverage in security applications. In terms of physical security, organizations should understand the 4 D's of security to address potential threats and incidents.
Deter - Objects to discourage threats or inappropriate activity. They can exist physically, such as gates, fences, doors, shields and signs. It is effective as it provides the first impression of the site, indicating that the site is protected and/ or restricted, giving them a warning to not proceed.
Detect - Identify threats when they happen. When deterrent measures do not work, equipment are used for detection that an intruder breach is present. Equipment such as CCTV cameras, sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices assist to identify and validate an incident.
Delay - Physical equipment that slows the breaching activity. Examples include turnstiles, doors, man traps, or any other kind of barriers of physical form. They may act as obstacles for the attacker within a confined area. In this time, it also gives the authority time to react and respond to the challenge.
Display - The equipment that detects provides detailed information about the threat for acting personnel to provide a response and investigate accordingly. The displayed data on the software of mobile phones, computers or interactive devices also documents the information of the incident.
The 4 D's of security can be optimized with an access control system. This would also mean utilizing access control devices that can specifically identify and provide information, such as computer vision and video analytics, where it will provide higher levels of physical security in various real-life applications.
Time and attendance, and payroll systems
Figure 4: Time management system: A management system for offices and workplaces
Informative and transparent: A time and attendance system is an automated process that is able to gather information in real-time. It can be integrated with a payroll system by working the attendance data with a payroll software. The system generates true and accurate attendance reports - including but not limited to work attendance, absences, hours worked, overtime etc. It can also be set to a custom format to retrieve key information and data.
Improved control: Real-time monitoring means that information is accurate, and thus easy to track. Integration with payroll or other third-party systems gives an analysis of information as a whole. In addition, cloud-based technology allows for a centralized data storing for better tracking, which is beneficial for workers in varying or multiple locations. Processing is made faster, easier and more accurately with this arrangement.
Highly reliable and secure: Authorized staff can view their information on schedules and other details - allowing for close monitoring. The payroll processing is based on the core attendance data and the seamless integration with other systems. With biometric systems, it ensures even accurate data, which addresses safety concerns. With the data being transferred in real-time, the process runs smoothly through electronic systems, minimizing errors that would otherwise be made by humans, leading to precise, reliable results.
TMS integration with payroll systems: A time management system, or time and attendance system electronically captures data, which is digital and thus sustainable. With the integration, payroll and statutory compliance reports are automated and processing information is made easier.
Access control: Industry applications
Although seemingly insignificant to apply to small operations, any business, small or large can benefit from the implementation of an access control system. Solutions are available regardless of business & employee strength, and can be worked with any budget. It is also scalable to adapt to the needs of organizations.
Banking & Finance
Figure 5: Banks can strengthen security measures with physical access control systems
For banks and financial institutions, there is more priority to IT security, however, physical and cyber security should work hand in hand in such industries. It helps prevent security breaches and boosts the image of the institution. The integration of a smart biometric identification and access control system empowers the security staff of financial institutions and makes for a dependable security routine.
Figure 6: Access control systems are applicable to the healthcare industry
The healthcare industry can make use of access control systems to protect IT rooms handling sensitive and confidential information, or protect offices of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to ensure the confidentiality of the information of patients. In addition, they use the systems to comply and adhere to health data confidentiality regulations.
Access control can also protect areas of high risk and danger, such as concentrated chemicals and biomedical waste. This prevents any accidents with unfamiliar and untrained people within the building.
Access control with time management functions can also make the shift management of nurses and other support staff effectively and increase the productivity of the healthcare organizations.
Figure 7: Government organizations can conduct tracking more efficiently with access control systems
In government organizations, visitors can be limited to specific areas which include certain rooms, floors, and departments. Employees are verified and are authorised entry to government buildings. Confidential information that are misused can be recorded by the visitor information report, which can be tracked to the user that has abused the information.
An access control system with visitor self-registration on-line or on-site will help the front desk of government agencies to save the time to register the customers, improve the visitor’s experiences and the overall productivity.
Figure 8: Schools can use access control systems to control the flow of students
Schools can utilize access control systems to control the flow of students of respective faculties. Larger schools such as those in universities may find it necessary to keep out of faculty students and other unauthorized persons to dorm buildings. Valuable equipment such as those in design, science, engineering and computer labs can be safeguarded with access control, and it can give approved and appropriate access to students via configured time settings.
Benefits of access control
Upgrade from traditional systems such as keys and keypads
Improved user experience
Promotes a safe environment
Decrease in cost
Ease of access to multiple locations
Comply with standards
Advantages of biometric technology access control
Anti-spoofing: Biometric data are extremely hard to duplicate. Each data of individuals is unique, it is highly unlikely that attributes such as facial, iris, fingerprints, palm structures can match with that of another individual. It is non-transferable data that is applicable only in physical conditions. This results in heightened security.
Quick, optimized solution: With a software system, information is always updated automatically for business continuity. This is a significant improvement over the manual work of access control. With this, businesses can take advantage of key data collected from the access control system, and operate more productively and efficiently.
Safety: With the COVID-19 pandemic, the access control systems allowed for a flexible, hybrid working environment, as companies aimed to minimize and reduce large crowds. With a face recognition biometric access system, touchless entry and exits are made possible, reducing the risk of transmitting illness.
Compliance with regulations and/ or standards: Physical access to data may need to be controlled. There may be regulations for data security that organizations are subject to, when sensitive data is handled. For example, confidential information in certain industries need to be kept safe, to protect the privacy of people and organizations.
Efficient: It can provide access to multiple, and certain locations. It can be integrated with a building management system (BMS) to monitor and maintain building equipment usage. One application is to monitor real time visitor presence, to automatically adjust related equipment and settings. The system is functional, adaptable and also scalable - in this case when a visitor visits the facility, credentials can be authorized quickly and this way, time can be used more efficiently.
Disadvantages of biometric technology access control
Costs: High upfront costs and investments are needed for the implementation of a biometric access control system. It contributes to the reason for organizations not adopting such systems. Furthermore, improved hardware and software may be required to support the shift of such a new system, which is a huge cost consideration.
Breach of privacy and confidentiality: The privacy of users need to be taken into consideration. Biometric technologies like facial recognition have been used to track people, as a digital tag. This information may be abused and misused by hackers. As surveillance around the world increases, this may be a permanent digital record used for tracking purposes, where people may even be unaware of them being tracked. Furthermore, the safety of the documented biometric data of individuals cannot be compromised - they are irreplaceable. The sensitive data should be well secured and protected, but with technology and fraud advancements, organizations should be wary of threats from hackers.
Biasness and inaccuracy: Cases of discrimination and exclusion occurs with poor implementation of the technology or misuse during digital onboarding - therefore, comprehensive, documented identity proofing is needed to enhance reliability to expand the capabilities of using other, for example, digital services. It is essential for a strong trust between the provider and consumer to work together to develop a reliable system.
In the future, as the technology advances, it envisages a partial-data approach, where only parts of the full data are used for verification. This may potentially cause frauds and hackings due to the compressed nature of information.
Types of access control (In physical security)
Types of access management devices and tools
Keys and keypads: The likelihood of these items becoming obsolete is high, especially in an high or efficient security environment, due to their problems of being unsustainable. Keys can be shared with people, and potentially be misplaced. Keypad codes on the other hand can be shared or even be forgotten. These traditional objects, systems and methods pose problems to authorization and thus security. With new technologies in place, they are considered outdated.
Modern access control systems use access management software, that typically functions with on-premise computers and servers. A software system is an upgrade over a traditional system. It provides a safe and secure solution with designated points of entry and exit, with identification, authorization and tracking capabilities. It fully digitalizes the access control process, and is compatible with other access control devices such as biometric devices and scanners, card readers, wireless locks and more. Integration is completed easily with existing systems. A software hosted on-site enables easier adaptation to specific requirements.
It is also able to be edited by adding new, or reducing members from the database containing the registered users. The software allows for some features such as notifications for certain events. For example, timings of when the door should be opened can be pre-set in the software. When the door is used outside of the timings, an alert may be triggered.
On-premise software can be further enhanced with the use of cloud-based systems. Apart from offering the functionalities of an on-premise software, a cloud-based access control management system can be operated and managed remotely, making it convenient, quick to implement, scale and update as a whole. They have been especially useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they are practical and efficient, which are relevant to companies who are looking for economic solutions to access control. Additionally, an on-premise system will be suitable to meet elevated cybersecurity and data protection standards.
Access control: Authentication and authorization
Figure 9: Authentication vs Authorization
Regarding access control, there are two terms in the process of obtaining and verifying credentials to identities that request the access.
Authentication - Authentication is the process of identifying and verifying the user. At the minimum level, passwords are commonly used. A more foolproof verification would consist of biometric authentication, or multi-factor authentication.
Authorization - Authorization can be considered as the access control part of the system. It is a mechanism to determine if the user is authorized. It determines the access rights of the user. Usually, authentication is first required to determine the right to the user, before the system can grant or refuse the request.
Access control: Market Analysis
Figure 10: Expected growth of the access control market by 2026
According to The Business Research Company, the global access control market is expected to grow from $10.54 billion in 2021 to $11.53 billion in 2022 at a 9.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). It is expected to reach $17.46 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 10.9%.
The main types of access controls in the market are card-based and biometrics-based that are present in various industries ranging from commercial to industrial use. Access controls can be deployed on-premise and cloud with access control hardware, software and provided services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every business sector & individuals. Previously in major sectors, the market showed a huge increment in the demand for PACS. The demand for access control systems decreased with the work-from-home solution, and the closure of facilities including offices, warehouses, work premises, etc.
Today, as the economy resumes a back to office work arrangement, it has resulted in an increasing demand for PACS again, according to Polaris Market Research . With smart PACS, it allows for companies to streamline work operations, to improve and strengthen their staff and workplace management and experience.
The future of access control: Evolution and trends
Figure 11: Use of biometrics in access control
Facial recognition technology can be utilized with video analytics. Facial recognition and video analytics allow for better security including monitoring of crowds, detecting unusual behavior and identifying offenders from a set of databases.
Future of biometrics
Facial recognition technology has been up and trending in the past few years - according to MarketsandMarkets Research, the global market of facial recognition is expected to generate around $7 billion USD in revenue by 2024, a 16.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2024. The figures suggest a positive trend, leading facial recognition to the future of access control. Today, millions of smartphones are secured with mobile face recognition, reflecting this trend. Cloud-based access control contributes to the security of properties and facilities. In the future, companies will work towards a critical approach to balance security and privacy.
Higher levels of security and reliability will be needed in the changing world. New forms of approaches and fraud prevention regarding biometrics are in progress while they become more prevalent across consumer and corporate systems today. With reference from a blog post from Security Boulevard, some future trends of biometric authentication include:
Additional layers such as “liveness testing” further enhances the integrity of a physically present user providing biometric information. It is a form of physical identity proofing and verification. Live identification and verification, which typically includes AI-driven video identification and verification, mitigates forms of possible identify fraud. Additionally, new forms of biometric identity verification such as gait, gesture and voice analysis helps to expand and supplement the capabilities of on-premises cameras.
To maintain authentication, continuous authentication can be used. Continuous authentication provides an advantage over single authentication through a study of behavior patterns, or other markers or factors in a repeat manner to guarantee and strengthen security over time.
Apart from the expansion of facial and behavior biometrics, advancement in other authentication factors will emerge. Advancements such as heartbeat pattern, hand structure and DNA reading are made possible with new technologies, providing more advanced features for recognition.
With this, more advancements will be made to offer to the access control market. Organizations can capitalize on these opportunities to upgrade and enhance their access control devices and systems for a comprehensive and competitive arrangement.
The information and data quoted in this white paper are based on the publicly available data sources as listed in the reference list, the IP rights of the information and data belongs to their respective owners.
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About Pensees Singapore
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