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    Access Control 101: How to Use Visitor Management To Protect Your People and Property

    James McDonald

    In an ideal world, your company would never have to worry about unauthorized individuals attempting to enter your facility or cybercriminals trying to steal your data. Unfortunately, these are two liabilities every business must contend with.

    Protecting your workplace, workforce and assets starts with understanding access control. Learn the essentials of access control and what you can do to keep your business safe.

    Access Control Basics

    There are two types of access control: physical access control, which manages access to buildings, rooms and IT assets; and logical access control, which involves restricting access to networks and data.

    When an individual or entity attempts to access a property, resource or network, the access control system verifies their identity via a single or multiple authentication factor. Authentication factors are used to determine that the person or entity requesting access is who they claim to be. In general, there are three main categories of authentication factors:

    • Knowledge factors: information that is known, such as a username and password or PIN
    • Possession factors: an item a person has, such as an ID badge or key fob
    • Inherence factors: a biometric characteristic, such as a fingerprint

    Once the system has verified the login credentials, it authorizes the appropriate level of access.

    Organizations have different options for the type of access control they can use. In general, the following three are the most common:

    1. Discretionary access control: The owners of the protected property, resource or network establish policies that define who or what is authorized to access it. Often the owners will select administrators who are allowed to set user permissions.
    2. Role-based access control: Access to resource or network is restricted to individuals or groups with specific business functions (such as software engineers or executives).
    3. Rule-based access control: The system administrator or owner of the resource or network defines the conditions under which access can be granted, such as the time of day. A common practice is to use a combination of role-based access and rule-based access.

    External and Internal Physical Access Control

    One of the most effective ways to limit access to your properties is using an ID badge system. An ID badge system helps you prevent unauthorized individuals from entering your facilities even when your lobby is unattended, as it requires every person to swipe a badge or keycard in order to unlock the door.

    In addition to restricting access to buildings, an ID badge system is a great tool for controlling access to high-security areas within the office, such as data centers and server rooms. You can install a badge system that has a multiple checkpoints and requires employees to swipe a badge not only when they enter and exit but also before they enter specific floors or sensitive areas of the workplace.

    When you work with a security vendor to design the system, you’ll need to consider not only your company’s security requirements but also the level of risk you’re willing to tolerate so employees don’t have to constantly swipe ID badges.

    Along with an access control system, it’s a good idea to invest in kiosks connected to visitor management software. Visitor management software allows you to upload a security watchlist of individuals who aren’t permitted on the premises. Whenever a guest checks in, the software will cross-check the visitor against the watchlist, which can help prevent unauthorized guests from entering. You can also use a visitor management system to print temporary security badges with a photo of the guest and an expiration date.

    Visitor-Management-Software

    Cloud-Based Logical Access Control

    Once you’ve properly protected your physical assets, you need to implement measures to keep your network and data secure.

    Start by ensuring that only the appropriate personnel have access to proprietary information and resources by executing discretionary access control or role-based control. Additionally, make sure removing access is part of your company’s official offboarding process.

    If you’re managing business systems and facilities solutions in-house, consider moving these to the cloud. On-premise solutions may give you control over deciding how data is protected, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Being responsible for 100 percent of data and system security is risky and expensive, and outsourcing to a provider of cloud-based solutions means taking advantage of considerably more resources and personnel.

    They can proactively protect your information using best practices and the latest technology, including antivirus software, intrusion detection and prevention systems, robust firewalls and access controls and data encryption at rest.

    Most importantly, partnering with a cloud solutions provider means employees can’t accidentally (or deliberately) adjust security settings and put your company at risk of a breach.

    When you implement access control technology like an ID badge system, invest in visitor management software and move business critical solutions to the cloud, you can allocate more resources and time to other aspects of the business. Don’t procrastinate — upgrade your access control today.

    James McDonald

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    James McDonald

    James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.