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Security Access Cards

How Safe Is Your Business?

How safe is your office or business from wandering intruders; individuals who should not be in the premises. Many of us work in buildings with open plan space where we all know each other individually. Others work in buildings with many floors and suites of offices; some with communal leisure spaces. With different people all using office & communal space it is often difficult if not impossible to know who has access rights to the premises and also to which areas of the premises.

Background to Security Access

All civilizations over time have used varying forms of access control, be it a log across a chasm or a drawbridge in a castle. Even down to our basic door, which if properly secured by a suitable locking mechanism acts as a quite reliable form of access control.

Although this is not what we think of when we use the term Access Control in regard to today's world. Today's modern access control systems are able to offer unforeseen advances in technology that even thirty years ago would not have been imagined by the professional security manager of the time let alone the general public. Today not many people outside the security industry realise what technologies are available.

Secure Access Solutions

Methods of controlling access, such as ID Cards, Work Passes and Access Control Cards have mostly been looked at in the past as an unwelcome necessity. However, as the security of individuals and premises has become more highlighted in today's changing world that view is not so widely held anymore.

If you work for a large company you may have a reception desk at the entrance where staff and especially visitors may be required to sign a book with their basic details. A company may have a card access control system which allows individuals access to the workplace. The system may also have zone protected rights where different individuals are only allowed access to certain areas of the building or facilities i.e. (access to photocopiers).

This has normally been the custom over the latter years with individuals using their personal ID card with a magnetic stripe on the rear to gain access to such areas and facilities. The magnetic stripe is encoded with the details of the individual and the relevant access rights. New technologies are now gaining ground in replacing the magnetic stripe and giving the company additional controls on who is accessing their premises at different times.

WEBiT has a vast array of choices when it comes to access control cards.  In addition to traditional access control situations, cards and card readers exist that service biometrics, time and attendance, digital cash, IT secure authentication, guard tours, parking medical and service storage.  Additionally the same cards can be used for digital cash, vending and billing.

Access control cards use a variety of technologies.  These include magnetic strip, Wiegand and contactless smart cards.

Access Control Cards - Magnetic Strip: This type of card is capable of storing data by storing data by modifying the magnetism of magnetic particles located on the card, commonly referred to as a magstripe.  The card's magstripe is read by physical contract and swiping of the card past a card reader.

These types of cards are regulated by International Standards Organization standards ISO 7810, ISO 7811, ISO 7812, ISO 7813 and ISO 4909.

Magnetic strip cards are commonly used in access control for building access as well as in identity cards.  The technology is slowly being replaced by contactless smart cards which offer more features and security than the magnetic strip card.

Access Control Cards - Wiegand: A Wiegand access control card uses a series of embedded wires made with a special alloy that make them hard to duplicate.  Wiegand cards are extremely hard to counterfeit. The set of wires contains data such as identity information, credit card information, medical information, etc.  The card is read by passing it through or, by brining it near, a device called a "Wiegand sensor".  Due to the fact that a Wiegand card can operate over a wide variety of temperatures, these cards have been widely adopted for use in more weather prone environments.

Wiegand cards are often used in proximity cards.  This means that a user only has to be near the reader but does not have to touch the reader.  Proximity cards are useful for physical building access and also on production workflows where employees need access to facilities and/or applications in a hurry.  However, proximity cards are not a strong source of user authentication since the token does not mean that the person holding it is actually the person it was issued to.