A credential is a physical/tangible object, a piece of knowledge, or a facet of a person's physical being that enables an individual access to a given physical facility or computer-based information system. Typically, credentials can be something a person knows (such as a number or PIN), something they have (such as an access badge), something they are (such as a biometric feature), something they do (measurable behavioral patterns) or some combination of these items. This is known as multi-factor authentication. The typical credential is an access card or key-fob, and newer software can also turn users' smartphones into access devices.
There are many card technologies including magnetic stripe, bar code, Wiegand, kHz proximity, -bit card-swipe, contact smart cards, and contactless smart cards. Also available are key-fobs, which are more compact than ID cards, and attach to a key ring. Biometric technologies include fingerprint, facial recognition, iris recognition, retinal scan, voice, and hand geometry. The built-in biometric technologies found on newer smartphones can also be used as credentials in conjunction with access software running on mobile devices. In addition to older more traditional card access technologies, newer technologies such as Near field communication (NFC), Bluetooth low energy or Ultra-wideband (UWB) can also communicate user credentials to readers for system or building access.
Access control system components
Components of an access control system include:
- An access control panel (also known as a controller)
- An access-controlled entry, such as a door, turnstile, parking gate, elevator, or other physical barrier
- A reader installed near the entry. (In cases where the exit is also controlled, a second reader is used on the opposite side of the entry.)
- Locking hardware, such as electric door strikes and electromagnetic locks
- A magnetic door switch for monitoring door position
- Request-to-exit (RTE) devices for allowing egress. When a RTE button is pushed, or the motion detector detects motion at the door, the door alarm is temporarily ignored while the door is opened. Exiting a door without having to electrically unlock the door is called mechanical free egress. This is an important safety feature. In cases where the lock must be electrically unlocked on exit, the request-to-exit device also unlocks the door.
The most common security risk of intrusion through an access control system is by simply following a legitimate user through a door, and this is referred to as tailgating. Often the legitimate user will hold the door for the intruder. This risk can be minimized through security awareness training of the user population or more active means such as turnstiles. In very high-security applications this risk is minimized by using a sally port, sometimes called a security vestibule or mantrap, where operator intervention is required presumably to assure valid identification.tation needed
The second most common risk is from levering a door open. This is relatively difficult on properly secured doors with strikes or high holding force magnetic locks. Fully implemented access control systems include forced door monitoring alarms. These vary in effectiveness, usually failing from high false positive alarms, poor database configuration, or lack of active intrusion monitoring. Most newer access control systems incorporate some type of door prop alarm to inform system administrators of a door left open longer than a specified length of time.tation needed
The third most common security risk is natural disasters. In order to mitigate risk from natural disasters, the structure of the building, down to the quality of the network and computer equipment vital. From an organizational perspective, the leadership will need to adopt and implement an All Hazards Plan, or Incident Response Plan. The highlights of any incident plan determined by the National Incident Management System must include Pre-incident planning, during incident actions, disaster recovery, and after-action review.
Spoofing locking hardware is fairly simple and more elegant than levering. A strong magnet can operate the solenoid controlling bolts in electric locking hardware. Motor locks, more prevalent in Europe than in the US, are also susceptible to this attack using a doughnut-shaped magnet. It is also possible to manipulate the power to the lock either by removing or adding current, although most Access Control systems incorporate battery back-up systems and the locks are almost always located on the secure side of the door.tation needed
Access cards themselves have proven vulnerable to sophisticated attacks. Enterprising hackers have built portable readers that capture the card number from a user's proximity card. The hacker simply walks by the user, reads the card, and then presents the number to a reader securing the door. This is possible because card numbers are sent in the clear, no encryption being used. To counter this, dual authentication methods, such as a card plus a PIN should always be used.
Many access control credentials unique serial numbers are programmed in sequential order during manufacturing. Known as a sequential attack, if an intruder has a credential once used in the system they can simply increment or decrement the serial number until they find a credential that is currently authorized in the system. Ordering credentials with random unique serial numbers is recommended to counter this threat.
Finally, most electric locking hardware still has mechanical keys as a fail-over. Mechanical key locks are vulnerable to bumping.