Cody Horchak 4 min read

Retrofitting Access Control Part 3: The State of Your Security

This is part 3 of a daily series on challenging conventions in the access control world and retrofitting our perspective on what’s best for people, businesses, buildings, and the world. Click here to start the series from the beginning. Stay tuned for part 4 on operations coming tomorrow.

As much as access control is about letting in approved users and guests, it’s also about keeping out security risks.

Safeguarding structures, information, locations, and people is a paramount concern, and access control systems are often the first and last lines of defense. 38% of security professionals, managers, and consultants listed “Protection against increasing vulnerabilities” as their top access control concern, according to a survey by Security Management magazine. It’s rising in priority on the user side, too: for instance, 44% of office workers think the pandemic has made access control a more important issue.

So when considering an update of your access control infrastructure, it’s important to factor in your security needs and priorities to decide whether it’s best to retrofit or replace your existing system.

The Hazards of Outdated Access Control

Many existing access control systems are ancient. It’s not uncommon to enter an apartment complex, parking garage, or office building that’s still relying on the same infrastructure that was installed 20 or 30 years ago.

These systems rely on physical components for access credentialing: fobs, key cards, access badges…sometimes even old-fashioned metal keys.

With these old-fashioned physical keys comes modern physical security vulnerabilities. They can easily be stolen or lost. They’re easy to duplicate (even magnetic keys for RFID readers). They’re subject to common human-driven security weaknesses like credential sharing, pass-backs, or tailgating (as a matter of fact, 41% of security executives believe the cost of tailgating ranges from $2 million to “too high to measure” for their firm).

Digitizing Our Way to A Safer World

A simple retrofit of your access control system can virtually eliminate all these risks.

Updating your existing infrastructure enables it to read and interpret digital clones of credentials that were previously stored in those access cards and fobs. That means you can transition users of your access control system to utilize digital identification stored on their phones. This brings several key advantages from a security standpoint:

A phone is far less likely to be lost or shared with someone else (we really like to hang on to those things!)

        Digital access credentials can be instantly changed or revoked if there’s a concern about a phone’s location and possession

        Smartphones have built-in features that make accessing and using a digital credential more secure, including facial recognition, password protection, and even biometric screening

Security Through Data

Another key value that accompanies retrofitting your access control system is a goldmine of data that can be converted into smarter policies and resource allocation. Real-time data reporting and sharing is something older systems lack but is also something that is often missing from new systems even in a  rip-and-replace scenario. Even modern ‘smart’ systems capable of recording data aren’t always able to communicate with building management and security systems to get the most use from it.

Access control data from a retrofit access control system can paint a vivid picture of who is using a building, how, and where. That means you can quickly notice when someone is somewhere they don’t belong, identify users that are chronic security risks, or preemptively shift security personnel to locations of high traffic when you notice patterns of building use. The applications are endless!