What Are the Different Types of Access Control Readers?

When it comes to installing or upgrading a security system for your business, one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is how to handle access control. Access control refers to physical or technology-based security measures regarding entrances to spaces in and around your building. Everything from a physical lock on a door to a key card that opens certain storage areas is considered a part of access control.

When installing an access control system, there are multiple options for access control readers. Each has its own unique features, benefits and drawbacks. Here, we discuss the various access control card reader types to help you get an idea of which might be the best choice for your business.

Card Readers

Many businesses utilize card readers as their primary form of access control. Card readers use key cards instead of physical keys or codes to allow entry. Generally, there are two types of access control key card readers — proximity and magnetic.

With magnetic key cards, a magnetic strip similar to that of a credit card is used to swipe in a physical reader, which then grants or denies access based on the previously programmed rules of entry within the system. Proximity cards work similarly, except instead of requiring a physical reader to determine access, an RFID signal is utilized from a distance to allow or deny user access.

Both of these key card options allow organizations to view a history of which cards are used at which entry points, making it easy to narrow down users in the event of a security incident. However, the downfall of using key card readers is that users can lose or lend their card easily, rendering your organization's security less effective.

Keypad Readers

Nearly everyone is familiar with keypad entry. With keypad readers, the user enters a personal code to unlock an entry point. Similar to key card readers, the code triggers a denial or allowance of entry based on preprogrammed settings.

Like key cards, PIN numbers can hinder security measures, as they can be easily given out, guessed or copied. However, some organizations find keypad readers more functional for their staff, because they don't require employees to have a physical key card to gain entry.

Two-Factor or Multifactor Authentication Readers

Keypad readers can be used in conjunction with physical key cards to enhance security. This is what’s known as two-factor or multifactor authentication readers. Although two-factor authentication is certainly more secure than a single access control reader, even this form of access control can be hacked with a stolen card and PIN.

Biometric Readers 

Sophisticated and secure biometric readers use physical biometrics such as fingerprints for access control rather than key cards or PIN numbers. Especially when paired with another form of access control reader, biometric access control is hands-down the most effective form of security for business owners who want the ultimate in access control.

Although these readers are effective, they are also more expensive than other, more commonly used options. Another drawback of relying on fingerprints to prove identity and allow for access is the resulting high-touch surface that could pose a sanitation problem and become an unwanted source of transmission of viruses and bacteria. For this reason, some businesses may choose a touchless access control method like keypad readers instead.

Taylored Systems — Access Control Experts

For over 35 years, Taylored has been working one-on-one with our client partners, which span many industries and encompass organizations of all sizes, to create custom access control solutions. We aim to help businesses create access control systems that are ideal for their unique security needs and functional for their standard operations.

Contact us today to find out what type of access control solution is best for your organization, and let us help you protect your business.