Cloud-Based Access Control Systems: Pros, Cons, and What You Need to Know
Access control has gone far beyond old-fashioned locks and keys, and smartphones are getting smarter every day. Imagine, instead of using a keycard to unlock a door, your employees could use an app on their phones to gain access to different areas of your business. It’s not a plot from the world of science fiction anymore; now, it’s a reality. Many businesses, understandably, have their concerns regarding this technology. Can smartphones and Bluetooth work well with cloud-based access control? What are the pros and cons that come with these types of wireless access control solutions? Can such a system be secure?
Cloud-Based Access Control Systems: The Basics
A cloud-based access control system can go by many names, including Bluetooth access control system and wireless access control system. The readers for these systems work similarly to a proximity card reader, but instead of working with a proximity card, the reader is Bluetooth- or NFC-enabled (NFC or near field communication refers to readers that only work from a few feet away). Employers then can securely send invitations to their employees’ phones to download the application and enroll. After that, employees need only their phones, tablets, or wearables to gain appropriate access to specific areas. Different systems may require employees to push a button to open the door or to wave the phone in front of it, while other systems offer simple proximity options, where employees simply need to approach.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud-Based Access Control Systems
Easy Installation and Deployment
Most cloud-based access control systems pair easily with most electronic locks, making it a simple transition to this type of access control. As previously mentioned, the credentials are assigned through a secure invitation to download the application and enroll, meaning that there’s no waiting on key card construction or biometric entry into the database.
Integration and Management
The beauty of a cloud-based access control system also lies in its ability to be integrated with your other security systems, such as CCTV. Many of these access control systems offer this feature, and most come with a platform that can be accessed by administrators in the company to monitor access, making your business security system far easier to manage.
Biometric scanners are incredibly costly, and proximity cards can add up as employees lose them or leave the company. On the other hand, smartphone access uses just that, your employees’ smartphones. There are no physical cards to keep track of, and the database and applications all exist in the cloud, making this a much more convenient and cost-effective method of access control.
When your employees repeatedly have to touch multiple keypads or biometric scanners, those germs just keep stacking up. Meanwhile, Bluetooth access control systems are virtually hands-free. Employees only have to touch their own phones, if that much, as some only require proximity within 30 feet of the reader.
Whether you are dealing with one location or multiple locations, cloud-based access control systems can be adjusted to scale with a growing business, and you don’t need multiple access cards for multiple locations.
It may come as a surprise to some, but cloud-based access control systems are quite secure. Smartphones can be locked by PIN or password, so even if an employee’s smartphone is lost, the access control application is still difficult to use, if not impossible, for the average person. Regardless, people are very attached to their smartphones, and they feel a sense of ownership over them that they may not have for proximity or key cards, meaning that losing a smartphone is far less likely. They are also far less inclined to loan an outsider their smartphones to let them into the building, as much of their own personal information is on their smartphones.
Furthermore, because the readers for Bluetooth access control systems work up to 30 feet away, there is no need for the readers to be exposed outside the doors that need to be opened. As a result, they are more protected from thieves and vandals, unlike proximity card readers, keypads, and biometric scanners. Plus, cloud-based access control systems frequently come with sophisticated encryption systems, providing additional security.
Some Hacking Vulnerabilities
There are concerns that Bluetooth readers can be vulnerable to attacks due to their long read range, as someone may be able to intercept the signal and hack it in between the user and the reader. However, most argue that this is unlikely, as the resources, effort, and technology to do this would be highly expensive, more expensive than the reader itself, for certain. The encryption protocols in most of these systems also should help protect against this kind of attack.
NFC, If Desired, Is Less Widely Available
If you would prefer to avoid the range of a Bluetooth access control system but still want the cloud-based system, you may consider NFC, or near field communication. However, while Bluetooth is widely available in most smartphones, NFC-compatibility is still young, and therefore it is less ubiquitous. As a result, if you do choose this sort of system, you may need to get NFC sleeves for those who do not have the most recent smartphones.
May Not Be Appropriate For All Levels of Your Company
Some areas of your company may require additional security for your access control, so using a wireless access control system may not be appropriate. For these security level requirements, however, you may want to consider multiple-factor authentication, such as using the smartphone access in conjunction with a keypad or biometric reader, in order to provide added layers of security in the areas that need it.
Is a Cloud-Based Access Control System Right for Your Business?
Whether or not a cloud-based access control solution is right for your business depends on your security needs, your budget, any regulatory restrictions in your industry, and other factors. Customer 1st Communications can help determine the best type of access control system for your company, and we’ll work within your time frame and your budget. Give us a call today at 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.