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Biometric smart card access control for smaller businesses.

BQT Solutions : 21 December, 2007  (Technical Article)
BQT Solutions explains the best methods of controlling access for SMEs with details of the Mifare contactless smart card combined with biometrics for secure access control
Historically; security has always been a compromise between potential risk and the justification of cost. However the emphasis is starting to change from viewing what happened - CCTV - to preventing it happening - Access Control. With Health and Safety legislation together with good practice Business Continuity Planning, the protection of people, buildings and property has become a boardroom issue.

Usually physical security matters are the responsibility of the security officer or facilities manager whilst network or access control security software is the responsibility of the IT manager who has a very different set of priorities which include maintaining enough bandwidth on the system to keep it functioning efficiently. In the past this priority has not always been compatible with network based security software because of the bandwidth required to keep the systems in operation 24/7.

With IP networks becoming more robust and with bandwidth issues a concern of the past it is easy to use the IP network as the communication bus for the building security system. This approach enables huge savings on installation and future maintenance costs.

Controlling access to a facility can be difficult, authorised staff, contractors and visitors must be given access to the appropriate areas of their facilities whilst keeping unauthorised people out. It is also important to monitor and record which staff members have accessed which areas of the facility and when.

The choice of system is complex and it is often difficult particularly for SME's who may not have a dedicated security manager with the necessary experience. The security manager whoever he or she may be, must provide a system that whilst meeting all the security requirements, is also scalable, flexible, simple to use and cost effective. Meaning that the system does not require a great deal of expensive installation, that the system can be increased in size according to future requirements and that ongoing costs are kept to a minimum without compromising security.

Ongoing costs include such things as maintenance and staff training and these need to be factored into any calculations when selecting a system.

IP based software offers the most flexible and cost effective solution to this problem. Being IP based installation of the door control hard ware does not need a physical connection to the designated access control computer or computers, which saves running cabling all over the building. It also means that additional doors and alarms can be added as required. An IP based system also means the system can be operated from any dedicated machine within the building or even remotely by a contracted security company or the home of the security officer!

Physical access control can utilise a variety of authentication methods such as Smart Cards, PINs, biometrics or a combination of these solutions.

Choosing the right Smart Card is vital. It should be:.

- A card that can be personalised.
- A card that is easy to use.
- A card that is easy to manage.
- A card that can be implemented on current applications and supports future requirements.
- One card that is capable of being used in many ways such as access control, time and attendance, computer and application logon or storage of personal data for e-cash payments.
- A card that is secure.

Mifare contactless smart cards allow a user to present their card to the reader and the system will read the cards' credentials and, if authenticated, pass this information to the back-end system, which holds that individuals access rights.

There are no contact surfaces to wear or get damaged on the card or reader; this means a longer life for both card and reader adding further savings.

As Mifare smart cards have no contact plates for data exchange, communication with a reader is achieved using wireless technology, commonly referred to as RF. The energy to power the card is transmitted via a high frequency signal from the reader to the card, sending encrypted data bi-directionally and providing a fast and very efficient data exchange. Mifare is a close read range technology, up to 10cm, and is ideally suited for security applications.

It is important to ensure that when choosing a card/system, it complies with existing ISO standards.

Key areas of the business may need stronger user authentication to gain access, where proof of identity is required as well as ownership of a smart card the system should be able to use a combination of a smart card and a biometric. An example of this may be the computer centre, or cash storage.

Biometrics is a way of identifying and authenticating the claimed identity of a person automatically by using their physiological characteristics eg a fingerprint, face or iris scan. Adding a biometric identifier ensures that the correct user and card must be present, so eliminating the possibility of lost/stolen cards from being used.

BQT Solutions Limited is an international technology company dedicated to providing cost effective secure solutions to meet the demands and requirements for security in today's world and is a global leader in Access Control Software, Mifare Contactless Smart Card Applications, Biometric Access Control & Personal Identification Technology for both physical & network security applications.

SmaX access control software has been designed by BQT specifically to meet the requirements of SME's. It is IP based with all the associated benefits including quicker low cost installation, access from any designated computer including remote access, web based interface and scalability. The simple, user-friendly web based interface means that it is quicker and cheaper to train operators keeping ongoing training costs to a minimum.

BQT's smart card solutions offer more than a standard proximity card, Magstripe card, or personal identification number (PIN) by providing unique encryption keys, as the access readers will only read cards that possess matching keys, resulting in a higher security level than systems offering standard industry or proprietary smart cards. For projects requiring the highest level of protection the Mifare DESFire card together with the DESFire contactless smart card reader, enables the most secure card transaction process available today.

BQT has a wide range of biometric solutions such as fingerprint, facial or iris scanning technologies. BQT's unique solution ensures the security and privacy of biometric data by encoding an algorithm of the users' biometric template into the Mifare smart card. The biometric authentication is managed within the reader, there is no central database, and all the transactions are processed on a one-to-one basis, improving the false accept / false reject rate substantially.

This reader technology provides a highly secure environment and enables an easy and cost effective up-grade path to biometric security, which fits well with today's ever changing working practices. Where there are situations using hot-desking or other multi-user environments, such as hospital wards, military installations or government departments, differentiating between authorised and non-authorised users is possible by using BQT's technology.
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