Access control identification methods

Monday, 23rd July, 2018

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about an access control solution?  Most people think about how secure it is and the accountability of the system, or maybe you’re considering the types of locks, push to open buttons and access points.

One thing not to be overlooked is the identification and authentication method you want to use.  Identification can be broken up into three groups; something you know, something you have and something you are.

Something you know

This is the simplest of identification methods for access control and is most often used when control for just one or two doors is needed such as for an external door for a care home or sports club or perhaps a door to a medical store cupboard. 

PIN code

This is typically a 4 digit PIN number or code that is used to gain access to a building or room.  The main advantage of this method is that you don’t need to issue passes, however people may forget the PIN, write it down or even tell the PIN number to someone who is not a member or who you do not want to give access to.

Something you have

The majority of access control solutions use a physical identification method such as an ID card, fob or even mobile phones.  There are many different options available and each has its own benefit.

ID cards and fobs

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is most modern and frequently used form of technology for reading information on ID cards and fobs.  This method has the advantage of being able to be used for other applications such as print management and contactless payment (for cashless catering etc.).  User rights can be easily managed and simply blocked if a card or fob has been lost, stolen or you think it may have been compromised in some way.

There are different types of RFID technology that can be used with cards and fobs depending on the level of security you need and whether you want to use the card for more than just access control.  Examples of the technologies are; HiTAG, MiFare, Indala and HID to name but a few.  You can find out more about the these options on our website here

Mobile phone

A rapidly evolving form of identification is using a mobile phone to authenticate a user.  This has become more and more popular as the use of smartphones has increased and with over 4.7 billion people owning a smartphone it’s easy to see why.  Advantages of using this method are that mobile phones are less likely to be lost or ‘leant’ to another person to use.

Mobile phones use either NFC (Near Field Communication) or BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology to authenticate the user.  A mobile key is sent to a registered smartphone and users will receive a message telling them they have a new key and which doors this will allow them to access. They then simply present their phone to the relevant lock and hey presto!  Find out more about this technology here

Something you are


Often facilities with a high risk profile will want to have an additional type of identification and biometrics is a good option as it is based on a person’s physical characteristic such as fingerprint, vein patterns or voice recognition.

While compromising biometric identification is difficult, it is not impossible. 

So you can see there’s a lot to be considered but getting the right identification method for your business and security needs is important.

AIT are a certified SALTO partner and systems integrators, to find out how we can help you get the right identification method and access control solution for your business call us on 0113 273 0300 or email for more information.