Articles that Enrich and Expand on Physical Security Technologies

What is Access Control?

Physical access control is the restriction of access to a physical space, including a site, building, room, or cabinet. Access authorization may involve access for staff, contractors, or visitors and access points may accommodate individual walk-through or vehicle access.

The primary purpose of access control is to restrict access to unauthorized people and vehicles, while conveniently and efficiently providing access to employees, contractors, and visitors who are authorized.

Access control systems consist of access points, identifiers, readers/keypads, controls panels, and access control servers and may integrate into security management framework to extend security monitoring capability.

Access Control Components

  • Access Point
    This is an entry point where a physical barrier is required to restrict entry to people and vehicles. Physical barriers may include security gates, turnstiles, and door locks.
  • Identifier
    Access authorization for employees, contractors, and visitors is provided by an identifier such as person ID cards, RFID cards, and smart cards.
  • Readers and/or Keypads
    Readers and keypads are usually found at the access point and interact with an access control software/system (control panel) to authenticate the credentials of an employee, contractor, or visitor. Credential interaction could be a scanner for ID cards, a pin pad for manual entry, or a biometric (fingerprint, facial or retina scan) reader.
  • Control Panel
    The Physical Access Control (PACS) control panel receives information from the reader/keypad at the access point and verifies if the credentials are valid. An access decision is made, and proper access authorization is transmitted back to the access point.
  • Access Control Server
    The access control grants access to employees, contractors, and visitors. It also stores, registers, verifies and enrolls the credentials for employees, contractors, and visitors. The server can either be located on-premise or managed in a cloud environment.
  • Security Management System
    Access control software/systems can be integrated with different systems that facilitate perimeter security and facilities monitoring. These include video analytics, video management, security management, alarms and alerts, and perimeter protection.
  • Industries That Require Access Control
    Access control and access control software/systems are first-line defenses against unwanted intrusion and threat access. Here are some industries that benefit from access control systems:
Critical Infrastructure PortsHotels
Water utilities and damsManufacturingBanking & Finance
Cellular/telecom infrastructureMilitary, defense, and bordersRestaurants & Cafes
Data centers/datalines/data infrastructureAirportsCasinos
Oil and gas, including pipelinesSubwayEducation Facilities
Prisons & Correctional FacilitiesRailway StationsHospitals & Healthcare
Logistic Centers, Warehouses Government facilitiesMuseums & Art Galleries
Power PlantsConstruction SitesLeisure & Entertainment
Hydroelectric FacilitiesRetailSport Facilities
Safe & Smart CityBusiness Centers & OfficesParking Lots

Use Cases:

  • Physical Security: Controlling access to buildings, rooms, or other physical spaces.
    • Example: Electronic door locks controlled by RFID cards or biometric scanners.
  • Network Security: Controlling access to computer networks, systems, or data.
    • Example: Firewalls and VPNs that control access to a network.
  • Data Security: Controlling access to databases or files.
    • Example: Database management systems that enforce access controls on data.
  • Application Security: Controlling access to specific functionalities within software applications.
    • Example: A content management system that restricts editing capabilities to specific users.


  • Improved Security: By ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive resources.
  • Compliance: Many industries have regulations that require specific access controls to be in place.
  • Auditability: Access control systems often provide logs and reports that can be used for auditing and forensic analysis.
  • Efficiency: Automating access decisions can lead to more efficient operations.


  • Complexity: Managing access controls can become complex, especially as the number of users and resources grows.
  • Maintenance: Access control systems require ongoing maintenance to remain secure and effective.
  • Integration: Integrating access control systems with other security measures and systems can be challenging.

Access control systems are vital for protecting resources in a computing environment, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive information or systems, and providing a way to track and audit access to these resources.

Posted in: Access Control Info