About Access Control
What is Access Control
Access control systems perform authorization, identification, authentication, access approval, and accountability of entities through login credentials including passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric scans, and physical or electronic keys.
When credentials are presented to the equipment reader such as a tag or fingerprint, the reader sends the supplied credential information, usually a number, to a server. The control panel compares the credentials to an access list and then either grants or denies the request, and logs the request to a database.
When access is denied based on the access control list, the door remains locked. If there is a match between the credentials and the access control list, the server operates a relay that in turn unlocks the door. The control panel also ignores a door open signal to prevent an alarm. Often the reader provides feedback, such as a flashing red LED for an access denied and a flashing green LED for access granted.
The above description illustrates a single factor transaction. Credentials can be passed around, thus subverting the access control list. As an example, Alice has access rights to the server room, but Bob does not. Alice either gives Bob her credentials, or Bob takes it; he now has access to the server room. To prevent this, two-factor authentication can be used. In a two factor transaction, the presented credential and a second factor are needed for access to be granted; another factor can be a PIN, a second credential, operator intervention, or a biometric input.
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