Access Control Systems Information

Access control systems are used to identify people before access is granted to either digital or physical properties. These systems include card and pod readers as well as biometric equipment to identify fingerprints, thumb prints, palm prints, retinal scans, facial features, and voice patterns. Many access control systems consist of a central system within the security wall and one or more identification sensors on the outside. The central system will get an access request run an algorithm that matches a user’s identification to a database of authorized entrants.

Types of Access Control Systems

  • Security tokens are physical devices that contain an electronic "key.” They are used to gain access to physical spaces, networks, and other digital assets monitored by the access control system. Every security token is uniquely encoded and often encrypted. Security tokens can come in many shapes and sizes.
  • Magstripe card readers are the scanners used to electronically "read” a magnetic access card. Card reader systems require the swiping or insertion of the magnetic stripe card.
  • RFID fobs and cards are security devices with built-in authentication installed in the unit. RFID access systems work using radio frequencies for identification and can be programmed to periodically change the ID frequency. The fobs and cards are usually passive; they do not require an internal battery. RFID systems are popular where medium security is required because they involve very little effort by the user and can be easily programmed and reprogrammed.
  • access control systems informationBiometric access control systems include fingerprint, iris, voice, and facial recognition systems. Fingerprint systems require the user to place an index finger on an image reader that compares multiple points on the finger to an encrypted formula. Iris recognition systems use a camera to compare a black and white image of the eye to a stored template. Products that compare up to 250 iris features can be used alone or in conjunction with a fingerprint access control system. Facial recognition systems compare images of faces to a database of stored images. Integral software is used to measure key nodal points such as distance between eyes, width of nose, depth of eye sockets, cheekbones, jaw line, and chin. Biometric access control systems that use voice recognition technology are used to control access to account information and financial data. They can also be used to control access to telephones and other communications equipment. Before a transaction is authorized or access is granted, a user’s spoken voiceprint is compared to stored information, such as a set of spoken digits. 
  • Access control keypads are devices that may be used in addition to or in place of card readers. The access control keypad has keys that look similar to the keys on a telephone. The access control keypad requires that a person desiring to gain access enter a correct code. When access control keypads are used in concert with card readers, both a correct code and valid card must be verified before entry is granted. When access control keypads are used instead of card readers, only a correct code is required to gain access. Keypads are the simplest access device and likely the least secure because users share a password or multiple assigned passwords are used leaving the system vulnerable to “over the shoulder” observation of the code used.


Traditionally, access control systems have been used to secure buildings and facilities and now with the ever-expanding digital age they have found new applications. Advanced access control systems can offer an array of tools and benefits that may not have been considered. Beyond traditional security, access control systems can help any company or organization increase efficiencies of operation (and reduce costs) by enabling access system integration with many of the enterprise operation software products and solutions currently available.



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