When it comes to keeping your business and employees secure, access control is the most efficient way to prevent unauthorized visitors, restrict certain employees from accessing sensitive areas and managing your employees’ access.

Rather than giving each of your employees a set of keys to your business, you can opt to connect your doors to an access control system, letting your employees access the business using specialized credentials, such as a key card, that they input into a reader to unlock the door. You can set the level of security and find the right balance between safety and convenience for you and your employees. When an employee leaves your company, simply deactivate their credentials to deny them further access.

With access control security, you know who enters your business, when they entered and what door they used. Using the report interface that comes with most access control systems, you can track where your employees are. You can also section off rooms or areas to only authorized employees and receive reports of suspicious activity, such as someone trying to get into somewhere they don’t belong.

Access Control: Traditional vs. IP Systems

There are two prominent types of access control systems. The first is the traditional method of access control where control panels act as hubs for door readers, door locks, cameras and the system’s interface, usually a PC. The door readers and control panels connect with proprietary power and communication wiring. The second, newer method of access control is called an IP system. This type of system connects the door readers directly to a network, usually through Ethernet or wireless signals. Instead of control panels, these systems run usually through a less-bulky and easier-to-install network hub.

While IP systems are newer, there is still contention in the security market over which method is better. IP systems are much simpler to set up, usually just needing Ethernet connections to your company’s network rather than serial connections to multiple control panels. There is no limit to how many door readers can be connected to an IP system, while in a traditional system, control panels can only be connected to a handful of doors, so you’d need several panels to secure buildings with many doors. Critics say IP systems are less secure than the proprietary traditional versions of access control since network outages can affect performance and they are more susceptible to hackers. Ultimately, the system that would best suit your company depends on your needs. Some access control services offer both options and will work with you to determine which type would work best.

Working with Credentials

There are three forms of authentication: a physical credential like a card or key fob, a password or PIN, and something biometric like your fingerprint. Biometric credentials have been gaining in popularity, with nearly every company on the list offering this option. Another method of authentication that is emerging is mobile phone credentials, which involves using a phone app in place of a card.

For optimal security, use at least two of these methods for authentication. This practice is known as layered security, which requires employees to go through multiple safeguards before entering your business or certain sections.

If an employee leaves the company, whether they resigned or were terminated, their credentials should be voided immediately. Most control systems have an option to instantly revoke an employee’s access and can even automatically suspend them if the system detects suspicious behavior.

Enhancing Your Security

Security professionals recommend that businesses do a yearly review of their security and access control. Consider your security needs and how your current system has served you. If there have been any security incidents over the past year, reflect on whether your current system is at fault and if it could be more secure.

As part of your company’s routine security inspections, regularly examine the hardware involved with the access control system and check door readers, along with the wiring that connects them to the system, for signs of tampering. If the system is connected to a control panel, be sure it is installed in a secure location and that it remains locked at all times.

You can enhance your security by setting up what is called an anti-passback. This means setting up a reader on both sides of a door, requiring employees to use their credentials to exit the building as well as to enter. An anti-passback system will not allow credentials to be used to enter a door twice because it detects that the user is already in the building and won’t know they’ve left until they’ve used the exit reader. This can protect against cases of copied cards, cards being passed to others after opening the door or passcodes falling into the wrong hands.