Cloud-Based Security Advances Access Control

Introduction: Innovation Towards Mobile Access

Access control has evolved from PIN pads and cards to new technologies that involve mobile credentials. Now, smartphones can grant people access to buildings—and the software involved continually grows with the times. Traditional hard-wired systems advance to local servers and even beyond into the cloud.


As new developments in security drive technology forward, cloud access control is expected to become mainstream as the levels of both ease and safety increase.


Smartphone Access Control Offers Superior Security

There is a high market demand for access control technology that utilizes mobile phone apps—and increased security is a crucial factor. As they rise to the status of mini-computers, smartphones offer enhanced encryption. One innovative company that recognized this potential has led the march into the world of cloud access control with its various services and products: ProdataKey.


Josh Perry, Chief Technology Officer at ProdataKey of Draper, Utah, explains, “When using smartphones, your access credential is actually encrypted in the memory of your device, making it much, much more secure than a normal proximity card.”


In addition to the added encryption security, mobile credentials can be disabled by the owner immediately. However, if someone loses a proximity card or a key, they need to report it missing to HR—which many employees may not bother to do right away. Perry elaborates on why this is the case:


“If someone loses their phone, because of all the personal information it carries, they deactivate it as fast as possible. By contrast, if an employee loses his wallet with an access control card inside, he’s initially much more concerned about canceling his credit cards or putting a freeze on his bank account.”


In addition to the added security of cloud-based control, there are benefits on the organizational side of things. For example, without the need for key cards, fobs, or per-credential licensing feeds, administrative costs are reduced. Furthermore, companies’ environmental impacts will shrink when these relics of old systems don’t pile up in landfills or float through the ocean.


Troubleshooting a Lackluster Customer Experience
Although mobile credentials for cloud access control are not new, they have struggled to emerge as a leader in security access. The reason? Customer experience. Most solutions offered on the market today provide a lesser user experience than cards and fobs.


One major issue is that almost all cloud-based security solutions require an unlocked phone held directly next to a sensor. This method ensures that the signal cannot be intercepted and that the right person’s credential is validated. The result, however, is that many users must resort to juggling briefcases, bags, coffee cups, or more while they navigate unlocking their phones at turnstiles or doors. On the other hand, physical access control cards offer more convenience when they can be read through wallets or clothes.


An even more problematic aspect of mobile credentials is the need for a reliable cellular or WiFi connection. With weak or absent service, users may experience a glitchy performance, or worse, complete failure of the system.


Although cloud-based security seems to have more pros than cons on paper, “mobile credentialing ends up being more of a marketing bullet point than an added value customers fully embrace,” according to Perry.


Another problem that some organizations face involves attempting to merge mobile credentialing and legacy systems. When mobile credentials merely mimic traditional access card behavior, it’s easy to clone IDs and hack the system. Perry expands, “The legacy system has effectively nullified all of the high-tech security that’s implemented by both the reader and in the phone to accomplish the secure communication.”


Novel Solutions Break Barriers for Mobile Credentials

While these issues continue to plague many companies, the end of this era is arriving: new technology that combines cloud-based software with innovative hardware contains the potential to put both enhanced security and improved convenience on the table for mobile credentials.


When manufacturers issue unique credentials for every user, they become impossible to clone. They are also easy to manage via an automated process within the software’s administrative interface. With the smartphones’ processors’ help, encryption keys are then issued on a per-session basis, which further protects privacy.


In addition to the overhauled security, the convenience of mobile credentials that surpass existing solutions is on the horizon. New contactless Bluetooth techniques allow users to utilize credentials from further away while eliminating the risk of connecting with a different user’s phone. When the intended user approaches the reader, their mobile credentials will have already been identified and authorized, allowing for an immediate unlock upon request. This contactless Bluetooth technology is making waves in the realm of cloud access control. As Perry explains, “This will create an extremely low friction experience for the user that is even easier and more convenient than using a card–that’s the goal.”


This goal is realized through ProdataKey’s Touch io, a new Bluetooth reader and credential option for smartphones. Designed to be used in conjunction with the ProdataKey network and pdk io, the company’s cloud-based access control solution, Touch io can differentiate between phones inside and outside of doorways with its unique dual-antennae technology. ProdataKey’s innovative solution also recognizes door use patterns through machine learning, increasing secure access control over time.


Touch io can also accommodate and differentiate between both traditional cards and mobile credentials. This technological breakthrough enables a smoother transition that many customers need while also leveraging the superior security offered by smartphones.


Mobile Technology Makes Cloud-based Security Mainstream

Smartphones have improved and impacted daily life, and they will continue to do so in every industry. For every application, smartphones have needed to surpass the quality of their predecessor—and they have.


Some applications, such as mobile banking, faced larger jumps and higher bars to ensure functionality, privacy, and security. The emerging cloud access control solutions will become the new normal, just like mobile check deposits.


Although mobile credentialing is not the industry standard yet, some manufacturers recognize this emergent technology’s potential. If you are seriously considering cloud-based security for your company, look to the leaders who offer more than marketing hype on datasheets. Prepare questions, and request demos.


Smartphones continue to pave the way to the future. If you choose to invest in cloud access control, be sure that the solution you choose provides the exceptional experience that new technologies promise to deliver.


More on ProdataKey

ProdataKey (PDK) is a security integration team that possesses decades of hands-on field experience. PDK understands that professionals who know precisely what it takes to secure a facility properly are the ones who produce the best technology and provide solutions that instill confidence and safety in their users.


With a strong passion for developing technology that enhances the security, safety, and overall experience of everyone involved—from installation to daily use—PDK continues to create innovative technology each day with a mindset of improvement and innovation for its products, its partners’ products, and its users’ lives.

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