Access Control

What is Access Control?

Access control is a security technique that can be used to regulate who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment.

There are two main types of access control: physical and logical. Physical access control limits access to campuses, buildings, rooms and physical IT assets. Logical access limits connections to computer networks, system files and data (Declared in our Data security solutions in Data Access Levels).

Access control systems perform authorization, identification, authentication, access approval, and accountability of entities through login credentials including passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), and physical or electronic keys.

How it works

Door access control systems operate off of an electronic locking device. This device can be placed on an interior or exterior door. In order to enter the building or room, the user must present the appropriate credential – most likely a key card. The key card is swiped on a card swipe reader or placed over a card reader. In some cases, a code may be required, which means that the user will be prompted to enter the correct code on a keypad.

Door access control systems use what is called a controller. Controllers tend to operate around 32 control points, but larger ones can handle more. While each controller has its own software, a server runs the master software. Some servers may run hundreds of controllers. If there are several buildings, each one may have its own server.

Besides allowing and restricting access, door access control systems can be used with video and alarm systems so you can see who is entering a building and view any event that would cause the alarm to sound.

What you can control

Door access control systems allow you to designate times of free access and times of protected access. For example, you may allow employees and visitors to come in without restrictions between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. However, those coming in outside of business hours will require a key card for access.

Door access control systems also limit access to specific employees. For example, only managers may be able to access a certain room. These systems also limit traffic flow. If there are multiple restricted rooms down a corridor, you can restrict access to all of them.

Access Control Key Features

Door Status Monitoring Feature

To prevent misuse, the access control system provides a “door status monitoring” feature at each of the card reader controlled doors. The door status monitoring feature provides two important functions:

  1. “Door-Forced-Open” Monitoring: In the event that any card reader door is opened from outside without the use of a valid access card, the system will cause a “Door-Forced-Open” (DFO) condition to occur.
  2. “Door-Open-Too-Long” Monitoring: In the event that any card reader door is propped open, the system will cause a “Door-Open-Too-Long” (OTL) condition to occur.

Automatic Unlock Feature

The access control system allows each card reader controlled door to be “automatically unlocked” during certain time periods if desired. An automatically unlocked door can be opened without requiring the use of an access card.

The automatic unlocking feature can be set at the access control server computer on a door by door basis

Reporting Features

The access control system automatically records various types of system “transactions” on the access control server computer’s hard disk. The collection of these stored transactions is called the “system journal”. The system journal is simply a computer database in which records of access control transactions are stored.

There are many different types of access control system transactions. Some of the more common types of transactions include:

  • Valid Access: A entry through a door using a valid access card.
  • Invalid Access Attempt: An attempt to use an access card at the wrong door or at the wrong time.
  • Door-Forced-Open (DFO) Condition: A door opened from the outside without the use of a valid access card.
  • Door-Open-Too-Long (OTL) Condition: A door propped open.
  • Equipment Failure Condition: Failure of a portion of the access control system or it’s related wiring.
  • Power Failure Condition: Loss of primary power to the access control system.

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