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Different Kinds of Card Readers

There’s tons of different types of access control readers on the market today, including proximity card readers, card reader/keypad hybrids, biometric readers, and many more. It can be difficult for owners of residential, commercial, and/or institutional buildings to determine which type of card reader will suit their security needs best. In this blog entry, the access control system installation experts here at Nonstop Locksmith and Security Solutions will provide detail as to the different types of card readers, so that our customers can be better informed.

Card / Token Based Access Control Readers

The most common type of access control card readers can be understood as reading “what people have.” By this, we mean that these access control readers require the ownership of proximity cards, multiclass cards, key fobs, or access cards. These card reading system are usually utilized as part of a larger electronic access control system that implements centralized control of access privileges and security auditing. These readers are easy to operate and can be counted on – not to mention being the most affordable type of access control card reader. They offer a solid degree of security control for entrance points like exterior entrances and interior areas that require restricted access. These card readers provide an even higher degree of access security when used alongside a CCTV security camera system and/or alarm system.

Smart cards, which are often used with these access control card readers, have special chips installed within them that make the cards more durable and harder to duplicate. Smart cards are often utilized as a “single authentication method”; this means that when someone has possession of the smart card, that it’s all they need in order to gain access to the area using the card reader.

It’s essential when using these card readers that there are security operation protocols being implemented that ensure the continued security of the area. This includes protocols for reporting and un-programming any cards that are lost or stolen, ensuring that individuals with cards never give then out to someone else, and a procedure to make sure that people don’t “tailgate” enter the area behind someone with ownership of the proper card.

Information Based Access Control Readers

The other type of access control cards require individuals to have particular information, usually in combination with a particular token like a smart card as part of a dual authentication system. The most common type of access control card reader that does this is a card reader / keypad combination. While these are slightly more expensive than card-reader-only devices, they are ideal for sensitive or secure areas where the risk of an unauthorized person getting access to the access card makes a card/token-only access control reader not suitable enough for the security level. Of course, with this type of card reader the level of authentication only works when there’s proper protocols in place that make its use more secure. This includes making sure that the code isn’t displayed on a note in a public area, and that the code isn’t given out readily to strangers.

Biometric Based Access Control Readers

This type of access control reader measures “who people are” usually through the scanning of biometric information that measures fingerprints, retinas, facial recognition, or hand geometry. The majority of biometric readers are utilized in combination with a token-based card reader as well as an information-based card reader – either in specially manufactured combination units, or utilizing multiple stand-alone devices. The use of all three types of access control readers in conjunction together is rather rare, and used in high security environments including banks, medical facilities, data centers, government facilities, and military facilities. However, biometric access control readers aren’t 100% reliable; certain studies have inferred that they only work properly 98% of the time – which means that out of every 100 uses, the biometric reader denies access to 2 authorized individuals, or allows 2 unauthorized individuals in! This obviously makes it so that biometric scanners aren’t ideal for use alone – they are best utilized in combination with a token/card based access unit, or with a information/code based access control unit.

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