Physical security defines security methods that are planned to deny unauthorized access to facilities, equipment and resources, and to protect personnel and property from damage or harm. The advanced world of physical Access control is continually evolving. Keeping the access control design modernized with changes in functionality and compliant with security requirements can be an overwhelming task. HEYCE access control products and solutions aid in efficient migration to achieve the new compliance requirements with minimal impact on the resources.
In our effort to share information on the available physical access control security technology, we have listed different forms of card access control reader techniques in the subsequent tabs.
The primary types of smart cards are contact and contactless smart cards. Both carry an embedded microprocessor with memory. The main difference of smart cards with proximity cards is that the microchip in the proximity card has only one function: to provide the card reader with the card's identification number. Smart cards are much advanced with the processor on the smart card containing an embedded operating system. The smart cards can handle multiple applications such as a storing cash information, working as a pre-paid membership card, or an access control card.
The difference between the two types of smart cards is the method with which the microprocessor on the card communicates with readers. A contact smart card has eight contact points, which must physically touch the contacts on the card reader to transmit information. Since contact cards must be inserted into readers carefully in the proper direction, the speed and convenience of such a transaction is not usually convenient for most access control applications. The use of contact smart cards as physical access control is limited mostly to parking access control requirements when payment data is stored in card memory, and when the speed of transactions is not as significant.
A contactless smart card uses the same radio signal technology as the proximity card, with the exception of the frequency band used. Contactless RF smart cards use a higher frequency of 13.56 MHz much higher than the proximity cards’ frequency of 125 kHz. The use of higher frequency allows effective transfer of more data, and communication with several cards at the same time. A contactless card does not have to touch the reader or even be taken out of a wallet or purse. Most access control systems deployed today only read serial numbers of contactless smart cards. The available memory in the card remains unutilized. This card memory may be used for storing biometric data (i.e. fingerprint templates) of a user. In such a scenario a biometric reader first reads the template on the card and then compares it to the finger (hand, eye, etc.) presented by the user. The main benefit of this method is that the biometric data of users do not have to be distributed and stored in the memory of controllers or readers. This method simplifies the system and reduces memory requirements.
Proximity cards are the most commonly used card access control readers. Proximity card readers radiate a 1" to 20" electrical field around itself. When a proximity card is presented within this electrical field, the reader's electrical field stimulates a coil in the card. The coil charges a capacitor and in turn powers an integrated circuit (IC). The integrated circuit outputs the card number to the coil, which transmits it to the reader. The reader in turn sends this information to a door controller module, which is responsible to give the appropriate response in terms of authorization, alarm or any functions that are predefined with use of the card presented. A common proximity format follows 26-bit Wiegand protocol.
Magnetic stripe technology derives its name due to the use of the stripe of magnetic oxide tape that is bonded on the stripe card. There are three tracks of data on the magnetic stripe. Typically the data on each of the tracks follows a specific encoding standard. However it is possible to encode any format on any track. A mag-stripe card is cheaper when compared to other card technologies. It also has a simplified programming. The magnetic stripe holds more data than a barcode can contain in the same space. While a mag-stripe is more difficult to generate than a bar code, the technology for reading and encoding data on a mag-stripe is widespread and easy to acquire. The main disadvantage of magnetic stripe technology is that it is susceptible to misreads, card wear, and data corruption. These cards are also susceptible to various forms of skimming where external devices are placed over the reader to intercept the data read.
Wiegand card technology is a patented technology using embedded ferromagnetic wires strategically placed to generate a unique pattern that produces the identification number. Like magnetic stripe or barcode technology, this card must be swiped through a reader to be read. Unlike the other technologies, the identification media is embedded in the card and not susceptible to wear. This technology once gained popularity because it is difficult to duplicate, creating a high acuity of security. This technology is being replaced by proximity cards, however, because of the limited source of supply, the relatively better tamper resistance of proximity readers, and the convenience of the touch-less functionality in proximity readers. Proximity card readers are many a times referred to as "Wiegand output readers". However the proximity card readers no longer use the Wiegand effect. Proximity technology retains the Wiegand upstream data so that the new readers are compatible with older systems.