More often than not, you have used access control systems in one way or another, such as your ATM card, credit cards or other password-protected documents. The access control systems are put in place to prevent unauthorised persons from gaining access to a specific area or privileged information. The execution of restrictions and limitations on private property ensures safety. Several access control systems are in place and each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Biometric Access Systems
The use of unique physical characteristics to identify individuals is called biometrics. Examples of these unique characteristics include the fingerprint, iris, voice and hand geometry. Biometric systems perform both identification and authorisation using these unique characteristics. It is employed where high security is required, such as prisons, businesses, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and in the military. The advantages of this system is that it is very accurate because the odds of two people having similar characteristics are very minimal, it is very fast as it captures your details in seconds, it cannot be lost or stolen or forgotten and it is very efficient. The main disadvantage is that the hardware and software required are very expensive.
Possessed Object Access Systems
A possessed object access system is a control system that uses certain physical objects in your possession for identity. Examples of these objects include USB security keys, smart cards, magnetic cards and USB flash drives. They are commonly used to control access systems to facilities and computer systems. The advantage is that apart from protecting against unauthorised access, some objects can store additional security credentials. They are also portable. The disadvantages are that you can easily lose the object and it can be used by an unauthorised person if he gets hold of it.
Two-factor Authentication Systems
This system involves the use of two access control systems. For instance, you can use a combination of privileged information, like a password, and a biometric system. This method is very well established in commercial firms since it comes with a high level of security and has an extra level of complexity. As a result, hackers are less likely to get information on two different types of required factors. The main disadvantage is that it requires both the purchase and integration of separate authentication systems, and the deployment of a physical authenticator component to every system user.
Possessed Knowledge Access Systems
Sometimes when you are requesting access to a facility, a website or an ATM, you may be requested to provide some information. This information is used to authenticate whether you are an authorised user. This is a control system that relies on specific knowledge, which may only be known to you, such as PINs, usernames, pass codes and passwords. Passwords that are common can be a combination of characters or just secret words. Its advantage lies in ease of use and familiarising yourself with, while the disadvantages include forgetting the password, failing to frequently change the secret code and the potential of being hacked.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology; Assessment of Access Control Systems; Vincent C. Hue, et al.; September 2006
- FindBIOMETRICS: Physical Access Control Biometrics
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