What does “Network Security” mean to you?

Your first answer might be about the prevention of unauthorized access to a computer network, or the encryption of the traffic on the network. But think deeper, and you’ll hit upon the evolving and broader definition of the term - the use of existing network infrastructure to more cost-effectively enable physical security of people, equipment, and data.

Recent developments in physical security systems have enabled us to expand access control using IT infrastructure. It began with IP-enabled cameras and evolved to edge panels operating on the LAN – a trend that represented a major advance in technology and practice.

The latest access control technology enables us to design all the components of a lock – including card readers and sensors – into a single integrated system accessible from your Ethernet network. That means the elimination of additional wiring, greater flexibility and scalability, all in a standards-based open architecture.

Why IP?
By eliminating the need for hard wiring to a central panel or controller, IP-based systems enable installations that are non-proprietary, flexible and scalable. This means not only a more versatile solution, but also a more cost-efficient one. A network-based system can be enlarged by one door, and one reader, at a time. This is unlike some traditional systems where controllers or panels often support multiple openings even if only one opening is required.

Typically, legacy access control solutions are closed systems that require hard-wiring several discrete components – card reader, lock, door position switch, request to exit sensor, access control panel, and power supply – with RS-485 cable into one central panel or controller. These proprietary systems can limit the user’s choices to a single provider of hardware and software. More challenging yet, these solutions tend to be very complex and require expert personnel to handle installation and configuration.

What’s more, expanding traditional systems is complicated and expensive. A typical central controller is built to accommodate a specific number of doors – usually 4, 8, 16 or 32. That not only makes the system inflexible but also makes it difficult for facilities to match their requirements with available products. Simply put, if your access control project calls for 9 or 17 doors, you’re going to pay for more capacity than you need. 

This lack of flexibility translates into high initial costs, which can reduce the total number of doors you’re able to secure during an initial deployment. The ability to add more openings in the future depends on proximity to the currently deployed hardware. An opening on another floor, for example, may not be cost effective, due to the point to point wiring requirements of these systems.

Now that we’ve seen how legacy access control systems can be expensive, inflexible and labor-intensive, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of an IP-enabled approach:

•    IP lets you leverage existing infrastructure – Because it uses the existing IEEE 802.3af or 802.11 infrastructure, IP eliminates the need for additional power supplies or wiring.

•    IP is easy to install – Because cabling is reduced to a minimum or not needed at all, the entire installation process is streamlined and cost is reduced.

•    IP is flexible – Open architecture ensures future flexibility to meet changing needs.

•    IP is scalable – From adding a single door in a small office to integrating a large-scale facility, IP is an ideal fit for small and large installations alike.

•    IP is standards-based – IP solutions are based on international industry standards. That means the ability to pick and choose between components – reader, door controller and software – that best satisfy your needs and preferences. This freedom of choice makes the system future-proof and means you no longer have to rely on a single brand or supplier.

•    IP is secure – Data security is ensured through standard encryption techniques (AES 128-bit encryption) and WiFi solutions support current WiFi network security standards.

As you can see there are many important benefits associated with IP-enabled access control.

To learn more about how you can use your IT infrastructure to expand access control easily and affordably, download Network Security Redefined , an eBook from ASSA ABLOY.