Office security is an essential part of every business, regardless of the industry, type, and size.
The success and bottom-line of the business depend heavily on securing the office space since they can lose billions every year due to threats such as commercial burglaries, vandalism, sabotage, and unauthorised access.
These threats present themselves as both external, coming from outside the office, and internal, coming from within. The best way to manage them is by implementing security measures, preventing them from happening in the first place.
The first line of defence is by securing the main access areas into the office, i.e. the doors so that no unauthorized person can enter to cause potential harm.
Traditionally, keys have been used to grant or restrict access into an area, but the system has its flaws. For one, they are susceptible to being lost, copied, and stolen, putting the office in a vulnerable position.
Secondly, there’s no way to track the access activity with a key system. You know who has access, but there’s no way to monitor that access. You can’t possibly station guards at every single door.
To overcome the drawbacks of the key system, access control systems were developed in the 1960s providing comprehensive control over the access activities along with access tracking capabilities.
They have become a very popular choice among both homeowners and businesses, with a wide variety of access control systems for office security.
ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS FOR OFFICES
Access control can be as simple as using your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone. Your phone will check the scanned prints against the ones saved in your phone. If they match, your phone will unlock. It not, it will give an error and remain locked.
The most basic form of door access control in offices is a simple check-in sheet at the entrance, monitored and cross-checked by a receptionist. However, this is not a very effective security practice, hence the use of access control systems for offices.
Access control systems provide an efficient way to control and manage who enters an area of a building or office, allowing only those who are authorized to be there.
They are a keyless door entry system that, in addition to providing authorized access, also help establish access permissions for different areas of the premises. The identity of the user is authenticated via credentials entered into the system, which are checked against a database saved in the access server.
The system also gathers and stores data that enables the business owners to track the access activity and movement of employees and visitors coming into the office.
The log of events gives employers more control and knowledge on who is accessing the office and at what times. This helps them know if an employee is habitually late to work, or in the case of employee theft, it gives them all the information on who was in the area during the time of the incident.
TYPES OF AUTHENTICATION
There are several types of authentication methods used by access control systems. Choosing the best one for your office depends on the level of security you require.
- Access cards
An access card is a physical card that can be inserted, swiped or scanned (using RFID technology) by the system to grant access through electrically-locked doors.
Each card carries a unique pin that serves as identification credentials. These credentials are checked by a card reader, which is usually mounted on the door or the wall next to it, that sends the data to the panel and server to determine whether the user will be granted access or not.
Also known as proximity cards, swipe cards, and fobs, these cards are usually the size of a credit card, which makes them super portable and easy to fit inside a wallet.
A drawback of using access cards is that there is a risk of losing it, putting the integrity of the system in danger, which is why they are suitable for offices that are low-risk and do not have very strict access control policies.
- Keypad/Pin code
Keypad access systems use keycodes or PINs to be entered at the door to gain access.
The code is entered by the user using a numerical keypad, similar to the one found on calculators. If the correct pin is entered, the door is unlocked. Otherwise, it denies access and remains locked.
The keypad authentication method isn’t the most secure solution for access control because a pin can be shared multiple times between users, regardless of the permission levels.
Most modern offices utilize a keypad access system either as a secondary option or combined with other forms of authentication.
Biometric authentication uses unique biological features such as fingerprints, retina, and facial features to identify and verify users, granting access according to the permissions given.
The system checks the unique identifiers with an earlier saved version of the data and if they match, the system verifies the user’s identity, permitting them to enter. If the data doesn’t match, the entry points remain locked and access is denied.
This form of access control is used to manage access for high-security offices and portals, typically where confidential information is stored.
For added security, it is recommended to have multi-factor authentication where biometrics are used in conjunction with access cards.
TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS
Different access control systems are suitable for different types of offices, depending on the level of security they require and how they wish to grant access permissions to secure areas, down to each file cabinet or drawer containing sensitive information.
Here are the different types of access control systems for offices:
- Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
Discretionary Access Control (DAC) is the least restrictive type of access control, limited by the level of security the end-user of the system wishes to practice.
It is very flexible with the end-users having complete control over the system where they can easily change and configure access permissions based on what they think is right.
The level of control often gives too much authority to the end-users, who can knowingly or unknowingly pass access to inappropriate users, leaving the system in a vulnerable state.
DAC systems are a good choice for smaller offices with just a handful of employees and flexible security needs since it offers convenience and simplicity.
For larger offices with lots of users, Discretionary Access Control (DAC) might not be the best choice for the same reasons it’s great for smaller offices. The lack of complexity and control make it unsuitable for larger setups.
- Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
The Mandatory Access Control (MAC) is the most restrictive form of access control and the complete opposite of the DAC system.
In contrast to the DAC, the MAC is only controlled and managed by the system owner, giving the end-user no control over access permissions and privileges.
The end-users are all classified based on settings created by the system administrator and are provided with labels that either grant or deny them access to an area.
If the system administrator wishes to change a user’s access permissions, it would require them to create a new profile and credentials for the said user since their previous classification wouldn’t allow permissions not specified in the old profile.
Due to its strict control, Mandatory Access Control (MAC) is usually implemented in offices with tighter security that have confidential information to protect, such as military institutions and government organizations.
- Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), also called non-discretionary access control, provides access to users based on the role they have in the organization.
Instead of assigning access permissions to multiple unique individuals, the system administrator assigns access to specific job titles. Access permissions are granted according to the roles and the roles are assigned to the users.
For example, rather than assigning access permissions to an individual who is a project manager, access permissions are assigned to the project manager position.
The simple setup and ease-of-use of the system have made the RBAC the most popular access control system, especially for system owners and administrators in both residential and commercial properties.
MOBILE ACCESS CONTROL
Mobile access control is the newest innovation in access control systems, where a mobile phone application is used to gain access through an electrically-locked door.
Mobile phones, tablets, and smartwatches, all function as an individual’s authorization credentials, granting or denying access based on the access permissions.
The technology, most of the time, works using Bluetooth using which the phone communicates with the reader placed on the door.
A secure connection is established using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), that automatically pairs the device with the reader. There’s no need to pair them manually.
NFC (Near Field Communication) is also used to connect the two systems. The only difference between NFC and Bluetooth is that NFC supports a very limited range of communication, allowing the system to connect from a distance of a few inches. Whereas Bluetooth gives users the advantage of communicating with the reader from a few feet.
A few benefits of mobile access control include:
- Mobile phones are more secure and less likely to be lost by users.
- In case the phone is lost, the process of revoking access and reinstating access from the new device is much quicker.
- Mobile phones can’t be copied or duplicated, unlike an access card.
- All communication between the devices is encrypted.
- They are cost-effective and eliminate the need to purchase, issue, and replace access cards and fobs.
- All credentials are managed on the cloud, with no need of a physical server on-site.
ADVANTAGES OF AN OFFICE ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM
Here are all the ways an access control system can be beneficial for your office:
- No keys
Access control systems eliminate the need for keys, preventing an office and its employees to be dependent on them.
Keys are prone to being lost and stolen and are also easily copied, compromising the security of the entire office.
When keys aren’t returned by an ex-employee, the business is stuck with making new ones and also possibly having the locks changed for added security.
Access control systems are much more efficient than fumbling through keys to gain access into the office.
- Restricting access
Restricting access inside an office minimizes both external and internal threats. An access control system makes sure that only authorized people are allowed to enter, and they do that by assigning access permissions.
Only employees and verified visitors that the system allows can come in, keeping all intruders away.
Areas inside the office that are cordoned off for certain employees can also make use of access control systems to ensure only authorized personnel is permitted to enter.
- Tracking access
Tracking the access activities of employees and visitors is a huge plus point of installing access control systems in offices.
The systems save and record each entry and exit that happens throughout the day in the office, regardless of the time of day or night.
The tracking records help keep employee management issues at bay, giving the employers more control over their activity such as when they enter and leave the office.
- Difficult to duplicate
A physical key can be easily copied by anyone and used to gain unauthorized access into the premises. it is fairly easy to get them duplicated and are not costly at all.
This forces the management to have the locks changed and can become quite a hassle if it becomes a recurring trend.
When an access card or code is compromised, all the management has to do is change the access codes, issue new cards, and cancel the access of any lost or stolen ones, making the process easy as well as simplifying employee turnover.
- Remote access control
With the help of cloud technology, many access control systems allow controlling and monitoring access to offices from a remote location.
The administrators of the system have the comfort of adding and removing any credential, monitoring and tracking the access activity within the office and locking or unlocking the entire office with just a single switch.
Access control systems help make a safer environment for employers and employees of an office, giving them peace of mind.
Employees will appreciate the thought their employers give to their safety and security, making them more productive and motivated.
HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOUR OFFICE
Selecting the right access control system is fundamental for office security. With so many options out there, it can become quite a challenge.
There are a lot of factors to consider when making a decision. Here are a few basic questions that you must ask yourself before making the purchase:
- Who will manage the system?
Before investing in an access control system for your office, the owners and managers need to decide who will manage the system and help put operational policies into place. This responsibility must cover all aspects of the system including protocols to follow when hiring recruits, firing employees, and activating and deactivating user access privileges.
- How many areas need access control?
Identifying the areas that must have an access control system in place is necessary since that would determine the size and complexity of the system. Some areas must be high-risk than others and would require added security in the form of probably two-factor authentication.
- Which authentication method would work best?
As discussed above, there are several authentication methods including access cards, fobs, keypads, biometrics, and mobile access control. Deciding which one is suitable for your office depends on the level of security you require, as well as the size of the office and number of employees.
- Which functions and integrations are required?
Access control systems come with a range of functions such as access reporting, real-time notifications, and remote monitoring via computer or mobile. You must select the features your office requires and have a custom-made solution for your business. The systems can also be integrated with other security systems such as burglar alarms, CCTV systems, and fire alarms, that provide a more comprehensive security solution.
- How scalable is the system?
It’s always good to think ahead. When choosing an access control system, it is best to think about future growth and business outlook for the next 5-10 years. An increase in the size of the office and the number of employees would require the system to be flexible and scalable enough to accommodate this growth.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
Calder security provides a comprehensive package for access control systems for your office security needs.
We’ve been working in the security industry since 1976 and our MLA approved locksmiths can advise you on the best type of system for your office, along with professional installation, maintenance, and repair services.
Contact us right away for the best access control system for your office.