Types of Access Control: Which is the Best Option for Your Building?

There are various types of access control systems, but it’s safe to say that not all systems will be suitable for your business and its entry point needs.

Commercial access control systems will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to allowing who enters your business, where, and when someone can enter or exit the premises.

In the past, an access control system was far more simple – as in, it was a receptionist or security official with a sign-in sheet at the front door. However, over time, access control systems have progressed to include a lot more, such as door releases, door openers, barrier arms, swing gates, biometric access points, touchless access equipment, fully-fledged operating system and more.

Deciding which access control system works for your building is based on your business requirements’ size and security profile. This overview covers the difference between an access system vs an access control system, the advantages of an access control system, and the four main types of access control systems to consider.

Access system vs. Access control system

A typical access system provides basic level protection, ensuring no unauthorized access to the premises. This is a system that requires no or minimal monitoring. This system usually uses a keypad with a code on entry to provide access; this allows staff to enter the building using the code at any time of the day.

A key fob reader is much like a card reader and works on the same principle. This type of system allows access to the building using a basic access management plan of scanning the fob to allow access.

For those who don’t know, a fob is a small access device with built-in authentication used to control and secure access – some call it a “remote” or a “clicker.”
On the other hand, an access control system is an entire system, not just the devices used to access premises. An access control system is run by software and incorporates the systems that control or enable the access system devices to work.

Control is determined using an access control policy, allowing the user flexibility to change the access authorisations when needed and record events, like who’s come into the building and which staff members are onsite in real-time. It also secures the building at all times, not just at night when all the staff personnel head home.

Advantages of an Access Control System

Below are a few reasons why having an access control system in your workplace could be a great asset:

  • Always Know Who Is Coming and Going

With an access control system, the business has a virtual record of who is onsite at all times. Using a security policy allows the business to grant access to people like staff and contractors, either with or without limitations.

This form of access control manages who has access when they have access and what they can access.

  • Keep Track of Employees

With access control software, businesses can track their employees when they are onsite. For example, they can see arrival and leaving times and see if people are trying to access areas they are not supposed to or within the hours they are supposed to.

Access control is also a reliable way of tracking the overall hours each employee has worked.

  • Secure Sensitive Documents and Data

Every business has sensitive data they wish to protect, and while they may want to lock it away, they still need to grant access to sensitive information to ensure the business functions smoothly. Access control systems enable administrators to set up access permissions, which help keep sensitive documents and data secure by detailing exactly who can and can’t gain access to it and recording who has gained access to sensitive data and documents and when.

In addition, sensitive information job titles can be assigned to specific job titles with access permissions to assist only those who need the information to do their job.

  • Reduce Theft and Accidents

By monitoring who is coming and going and limiting access to required staff only, the business has a firm grip on access, thus reducing the incidence of theft and accidents. If a company is targeted for theft using the access control software, the owners will see who has access permissions and if the security policy is breached.

For example, let’s say that a valuable device goes missing from an office on the third floor on Saturday, but the only person who had access to that area was a particular person; this can be used to narrow down possible suspects. CCTV can also be used to verify this.

  • No More Key Worries

In the past, many hours of productivity could be lost if a manager misplaced the keys. Much the same, if business keys were stolen or went missing, it exposed a major security risk. With access controls in place, businesses can use facial recognition and biometric information to grant access using access control software and the associated access control system devices.

This makes the need for keys obsolete. When a staff member joins or leaves, the software database can be updated and access permissions reset, allowing access to areas as necessary, and disallowing them, too, if necessary.

  • Multi-Property Protection

If a business owns more than one building, following the same security systems, they can integrate databases, allowing the business to minimise time spent granting access to the same staff across many commercial sites.

This means staff can visit different sites using the same credentials and key cards while enjoying monitoring and tracking efficiencies.

  • Integration of solutions

Combining other solutions, such as video surveillance using the access control software as a platform, helps manage large areas or properties. For seamless operation, various systems can be integrated with your main access control system.

Four types of access control systems

There are four specific access control models that people tend to consider for their business. Although there may be different types of access control within the industry that are bespoke to specific businesses, these are the ones that are more commonly installed.

Discretionary access control (DAC)

A DAC system is often selected for a small business that requires the least restrictive type of access control. The business owners have complete control over the access rights and permissions for all users gaining access to the business premises and its data.

This type of access control allows the end-user individual control within their business and overall responsibility for all their assets.

Discretionary access control is not advised if high-security policies are in place, such as the military or the financial sector. This is because if one user shares access rights with another, there’s no layer of protection ensuring that the added user doesn’t put the business’s security at risk.

It’s also impossible to control the flow of info within the network. High-security requirements are best managed through a system with more functionality and under the supervision of security professionals.

DAC allows for flexibility and a reduced load on the system administrators because users can manage their own access. Discretionary access control is well suited to small businesses or no more than 20 employees with a limited cybersecurity budget.

Mandatory access control (MAC)

Mandatory access control is for businesses that need a high level of security and requires security clearances. It is usually where a security manager or security chief has discretionary access control over all the access and permissions for the business relating to security and access.

The MAC system is based on security guidelines, and all users are classified using these guidelines and given access according to these guidelines.

MAC systems are used for high-security setups like government organisations, law enforcement entities, and the military. MAC is paired with DAC for the best possible security in most instances.

Role-based access control (RBAC)

RBAC systems provide users access permissions based on their role within the business. The system follows strict protocols based on the person’s role within the business. There are limitations set on how much access individual users are given regarding specific business information and files.

For example, where a staff member with a specified job title will have full access to files and data, a contractor or junior member of staff will be given the minimum level of access or least privilege level of access required to do their job.

This functionality gives the system administrator the option of changing access rights depending on the necessity of each individual’s role or project. This is the most sought-after option in business as it is flexible but offers a higher level of security than a DAC and a MAC. Most large organisations use role-based access control systems.

Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

ABAC is a policy-based system of control, to which access rights are given to users through the use of policies. The policy in place works on combining several attributes to sensitive information.

Commonly used attributes used to define the access permissions are based on the following factors:

  • The user’s role in the business
  • The location
  • The department

Every business has different permissions based on these specific tags. Each time a person joins the business or is promoted, their attributes will be updated on the system. Their access permissions will be added or amended on the access control lists.

This type of system is bespoke to a business and will not be installed without weighing up the benefits of an attribute-based access control system first.

If your organisation processes a lot of PII (personally identifiable information), CUI data (controlled unclassified information) or HIPAA (health insurance portability and accountability act) data, then ABAC is a viable option.

Helping you choose the best access control solution is our goal

Choosing the best access control solution for your business isn’t a challenge you have to take on alone. With the help of a professional supplier of integrated security technologies such as Satori Risk, you can gain access to competitively priced security solutions based on your physical access control and security needs.

Whether you run a small business with a single site requirement or a multi-national company with a large portfolio and high-security requirements, we can ensure that access control is convenient and cost-effective for your business.

Satori Risk offers a full suite of access control solutions, featuring the four main types and all the required devices and systems to supplement it.

Satori Risk has a reputation for being a leader in the access control field, offering a tailor-made solution for every access control need. Arrange a call with one of our Satori Risk experts today.