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Security, Access Control and Key Considerations
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: 3 Steps to Improved SecurityPt. 2: Access Control: A New Generation for SecurityPt. 3: Defining Security for Access ControlPt. 4: This Page
Although access control systems have been in use for decades, it is surprising how many institutional and commercial facilities still rely on mechanical keys. While keys are the lowest-cost option in the short run, they can cause major security issues for managers.
Keys are easy to lose, potentially forcing managers to rekey entire buildings. Keys also are easy to duplicate. Keys do not provide an audit trail of who entered or exited a facility where or when. Even the best managed mechanical key systems create problems related to tracking who has keys to what, and managers need to be sure departing employees turn in their mechanical keys.
All this is not to say that mechanical key-based systems should never be used. The decision depends on the needs of the particular application. Managers need to be aware of their limitations when evaluating options.
Card-access and key-fob systems offer a number of advantages over mechanical key systems and are well-suited for many applications. With cards and key fobs, managers can track who came and went when through which door. The system software can limit access based on time, location or both, and system administrators can easily delete lost cards or fobs from the system.
These systems do have a number of drawbacks. Cards and fobs can be easily passed from one person to another, allowing people to access areas they are not authorized to access, and lost or stolen cards and fobs can go unnoticed for days. Early-generation systems are not secure and can be hacked or cloned.
But like mechanical key systems, card and fob system have their place in building security options.