The Future of Access Control

August 2021

Cards have traditionally been used for access control but there has been a recent shift toward using alternative methods that offer higher security and efficiency such as your mobile and/or fingerprint in the sense of biometric scanners.

Certain markets, such as education in other parts of the world have started offering students the ability to use their mobile phone for access, where a smartphone is the credential instead of a card. However in South Africa, due to the complex nature of this application and the lack thereof students who have smartphones that are capable of this functionality, this particular roll out in South Africa has been delayed.

The smartphone uses near-field communication (NFC) for access. Biometrics are also being used for access, again in the higher education market. For example, some universities are moving away from cards and using a fingerprint for access to dining services. With that being said, due to Covid certain universities in South Africa that were using biometric solutions have gone back to using cards.

“We see a future where both cards and mobile will be used for access, along with biometrics,” said Martin Hoff, Entrust Data card’s product marketing manager of hardware. “They are complementary form factors that can work together in an overall access control plan to secure a university, airport, government locations, financial institution, etc.”

Access control is an essential part of commercial security systems—keeping buildings, designated areas and sensitive information secure and safe by controlling entry or restricting access. With the wave or swipe of a card, authorized individuals can gain access to an entire facility, secured zone, networks or workstations, which may contain resources storing sensitive information about thousands or millions of people.

The two primary types of access control are physical and logical. While physical access control limits physical access to buildings, rooms and spaces within a building, logical access control allows authorized and authenticated personnel access to resources, systems, directories, networks and files.

Combining physical and logical access control delivers a higher level of security, granting companies the ability to limit and monitor access to sensitive data and physical locations.

Access cards are tied to a person’s identity through a physical access control (PAC) system, which involves a two-step process that links a card to a person once the card has been printed.

First, the (PAC) system identifies an individual. Then, his or her credentials are authenticated via a badge, smart card, password, mobile device or biometric (i.e. fingerprint, facial recognition or iris pattern). Following authentication, access is granted.

Many access control systems rely on one form of authentication, but more recently companies are moving toward multifactor identification, a security enhancement that requires the user to present two pieces of evidence for access. For example, entering a PIN and swiping a card for access. Combining multiple features is important to the security of both physical and digital credentials.

Looking to find out more information about Smart Card technology and how Cards Plus can assist you with your access cards, please get in contact with Cards Plus on 011 894 3914