In an organization, people, as well as computer programs, need to have authorization in order to be able to access data or information available in the system. And, for making the process comfortable, fast and easy access has always been required. But do you know that cybercriminals are also there with a desire to exploit the loopholes? It simply means that each and every user who accesses the system may or may not be a genuine and ethical user. So if an unethical person gets access to the information or data stored in the system, he can harm the organization in many ways. Hence there should be a strong system for access control security so that the systems may not be exploited, and the credentials of the ethical users may not be compromised.
What is Access Control Security System?
The system in a company, which ensures that no unethical and unauthorized users are allowed to access the company’s data or information, is referred to as Access Control Security System. And, on the other hand, the authorized users are not only allowed to access the data but allowed to take the required actions as well.
Why An Organization Needs Access Control?
It is worth noting that today the data has been spread to a broader area as compared to the past. The security systems like firewalls are not in a position that you can fully depend on them. That’s because they are not much reliable for the security of sensitive data. However, there is no doubt that they very well play the role which they are meant for. Hence as far as the security of the sensitive data is concerned, there comes the role of a strong access control system.
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Advantages Of The Systems Of Access Control Security
An organization having excellent access control solutions is benefited in the following ways:
- With an effective system for access control, the cost of security reduces. And, cost-reduction is desired by all organizations.
- The security of the crucial data of the organization is improved with the use of such systems.
- Implementation of such systems also helps them to be compliant with government policies, which is mandatory for them.
- Moreover, access to the resources of the organization becomes more effective when there are available such systems.
Fundamental Practices For Access Control Management
Some common and fundamental practices for access control management are listed below:
- Whenever there are many unsuccessful attempts of login, the access should be suspended or delayed.
- If the user accessing the system is not well-defined, he should not be allowed to access it. In other words, access should be denied for such users.
- The access criteria set by the organization to access the system should be as strict as possible.
- There are times when a user has left the organization, but his access account still exists. It is not a good practice. The accounts of obsolete users must be immediately removed.
- The default settings for the password should also be replaced.
- There should also be a proper implementation of the password rotation.
- Make sure that there is a difference in the job functions and the login ids.
- The inactive accounts should also be removed or suspended as soon as possible.
- Keep on checking the system on a regular basis so as to make sure that there are no useless things. Disable what isn’t required.
Challenges In Access Control Management
Many challenges are generally faced while managing access control security in an optimized way. Some of the most important challenges are as follows:
- The data is much diversified.
- Access levels are not the same for all. Instead, they are different for different users.
- The level of classification is also different for different users.
- The environment and work culture in an organization are changing very fast, making access control management more complicated.
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How Access Control System Works?
There are mainly three steps involved in the working of a system of access control security. These steps are described below:
The very first step in the working of the system is to know the identity of the user. In this step, the user is asked to enter his username.
In the second step, the system makes the authentication of the entered username or identity. The user may be asked to enter a password or token or advanced biometric, whatever is required by the system for verification. If the user passes the verification, he is allowed to proceed, otherwise denied.
In the next step, the system verifies whether the user has the authorization to perform the task which he is requesting to perform. If it is confirmed that the user possesses the authorization to perform the task which he is requesting to perform, the system allows him to proceed with that. And, if it is not so, he is denied.
Credentials Used In Access Control Systems
In an organization, the users have to make use of some credentials in order to access the system. But before moving ahead to know about the various types of credentials, it is recommended to have a quick look at the various terms used in that.
Any place where the user has to provide credentials to have access to is called Entry in access control terminology. They include parking gates, doors, turnstiles, storage cabinets, etc.
There are some devices installed or provided near the entries for receiving inputs of credentials from users in an access control security system. These devices are known as Readers. Readers, further, transfer the credentials or inputs to the nearly installed ACU’s.
● Access Control Software
It is the software that manages all the hardware involved in the access control of an organization. In this software, things like credentials, users, entries, access schedules, etc., are all defined. Further, the software conveys the data or information to the ACU. Thus on the basis of the data stored or synced in the ACU, it decides whether the user requesting the access should be granted access or not.
It is actually a control panel to which the Reader transfers the request or credential data for verification, and it decides whether access should be allowed or denied. There can be two to eight readers connected to one ACU.
● Locking Hardware
This hardware includes push bars, electromagnetic lock, electric strikes, and some other electrified hardware.
Types Of Credentials
The credentials used in access control systems are of many types. Below I have put a light on the six most important types of credentials. Just go through each of them.
1) Proximity Cards
Generally, there is no encryption provided by these cards. They make use of Wiegand protocol and make communication with the use of as low frequency as 125 kHz. And, as far as the range of short read possessed by these cards is concerned, it is generally 1-10 centimeter.
2) Swipe Cards
These cards are sometimes referred to as magstripe cards as well. That’s because it uses the same technology as that of credit cards. In such cards, there is a magnetic stripe that stores data. And, that stripe is read by some stripe card reader. There is no doubt that swipe cards are said to be less secure as compared to RFID cards. That’s because these cards are generally not encrypted, and it is not very difficult to clone them. But these swipe cards are of high-coercivity (HiCo), which makes them more reliable and secure as compared to the cards with low-coercivity (LoCo).
3) Contactless Smart Cards
There is a smart card microchip in such cards, and the frequency field used by them for communication is as high as 13.56 MHz. Encryption can also be found in these cards, but it is not compulsory that you will always find it enabled. As far as the read range is concerned, it is generally 1cm to 1m, and ISO/IEC 14443-A is one of the protocols used in these cards.
Biometrics credentials used in Access Control Security Systems include the identifying data like a fingerprint, retinas, veins, etc. of the users. But some issues can be faced while having these credentials implemented in the access control management of an organization. For example, there may be a risk of hygiene issues due to the use of fingerprint readers. Moreover, due to humidity, dust, sand, etc., there may be issues of facing failure to access the system with the biometric credentials. Just because of such issues, some users may feel uncomfortable in making use of this type of credentials for making access to the system.
In such credentials, you can use your mobile to make access or unlocking the entries. For this, the user will have to install a specific application of access control on his smartphone. Once the user has the mobile app installed on his phone, he can log in and make a request to unlock the entries. And, there are many ways to make the unlock requests in an access control application.
For example, the user can hold up the smartphone in front of the reader to unlock; he can also tab a button provided in the app, or he can make it just by touching the reader with the phone in his pocket. Further, the reader transfers the received unlock request to the ACU. This transfer can be made via Bluetooth or cellular data or WiFi. Thus unlock request is accepted after verification, and the user is allowed to proceed or access.
6) PIN Code
In this type of credentials used in access control, PIN codes are there rather than physical credentials. But the main issue that is generally faced in this type of credentials is that the users happen to forget their PIN code easily. And, sometimes, they also mistakenly share it with others. Keeping in mind these problems faced with this type of credentials, you can not consider them good for the areas where there is a need for high security.
Types of Access Control
There are mainly four types of access control, and on the basis of the sensitivity of their data, the organizations select the most suitable one out of these four. These four types are explained below:
1 Access Control Solution) Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
In this kind of Access Control, users are assigned access rights on the basis of the rules and regulations set by the central authority.
2 Access Control Solution) Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
In this type of Access Control, users determine or specify the rules on the basis of which the access rights are to be assigned.
3 Access Control Solution) Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)
In ABAC, various attributes of the user are assessed in order to make a decision on whether or not he is allowed to access a particular resource. These attributes may include variables like location, time, position, etc.
4 Access Control Solution) Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
This is the type of Access Control in which users are assigned access rights on the basis of their roles. In other words, a user is allowed to access the data, which is considered to be necessary for the particular role he is performing. The “Separation of privilege” and “least privilege” are the main security principles which this type of access control implements.
Bottom Line on the Access Control Solutions
There are many requirements that are needed to be fulfilled while handling access control management. In addition, these requirements are not always the same. They are diverse and also changing by time, thus making it a challenging task for the access control professionals to manage the access control security for an organization. Hence, making use of access control security systems becomes a necessity for them to manage everything in an optimized and effective way.