Workplace safety threats are increasing every year - imposing a heavy burden on organizations’ resources. Workplace security staff are constantly on the lookout for new technologies and and solutions to meet their fast-paced and high-stakes work environment. Protecting important data, networks, confidential information, facilities, equipment, software, company’s assets and personnel is their first priority and ultimate goal.
So, what are the new innovations in access management that increase workplace security? While earlier access managment systems focused solely on security, modern solutions are adopting a more balanced security and user experience perspective. New technologies such as capacity limits, temperature checks, and staggered schedules are being used to bring health safety into the equation. Workplace security managers will have better options for protecting their assets, employees, and sensitive information.
Workplace access points fall into two broad categories: ‘critical areas’ and ‘security areas’. Risks need to be evaluated and high-level requirements specified for how access is managed, and who is authorized to access specific areas. The right access management tool (e.g. access control, office intercom, or visitor management) can then be used to meet security objectives.
Organizations typically use front desk staff, usually situated in the lobby, as the first line of defense in building access to capture details of people who are allowed in on a temporary basis and ensure authorized entrances for regular users. Gates, parking garages, and unassuming outdoor entrances are an important area for security checks that are not typically monitored to this extent. Security guards in security booths can monitor parking garages or lots, but not always.
The goal is to let in authorized occupants and visitors while keeping out trespassers and would-be intruders. This ensures that there is a record of all people who entered the building, throughout the day. Controlling access at gates and entrances ensures that a safe environment is created where both employees and visitors have peace of mind. In busy buildings, the opening and closing of gates may be operated via automated specialized locks. There is also a need to operate security at these areas while reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and ensuring security at the building’s entry areas.
Human resource and accounting employees are - for the most part - in charge of an organization's most sensitive data. These departments are tasked with managing financial, personal, and health information, as well as other confidential data and proprietary secrets. It’s no surprise that there’s a steady increase in cybercrime activities targeting HR and Accounting departments. The 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon found that 86% of breaches were financially motivated. Theft of data from HR and accounting can lead to severe financial and reputation risks. HR and accounting security starts in the office where inspections should be done in areas where information is transmitted. Potential leaks may be identified in the form of outdated software or poor management practices. Streamlining office practices, updating software, and applying logical security measures (such as secure passwords) can help ensure that only authorized employees have access to sensitive information. Physical access control management can provide an additional security layer to make sure that sensitive HR and accounting resources are out of reach for unauthorized personnel.
Outdoor access points such as back doors, outdoor patio and/or delivery entrances are easy to overlook as critical access points, especially when they are not used as often. In traditional security setups, an authorized user is issued an access token or other method of secure access when needed. This needs a member of staff to be physically present (or at least share their access token) every time these access points need to be used. Monitoring these areas is important to ensure that there are unnoticed vulnerabilities that can compromise security in the building. There is also a need to enhance efficiency in security management of outdoor access points.
Elevators are not typically thought of as a critical access point that needs a high level of security like the building entrance or other highly classified areas. They are, however, still an important access point to consider when it comes to office security. Offices usually have different access permissions for different floors in buildings and are hard to regulate if someone gets off at a floor where they shouldn’t have access to. This is a significant security threat, and there is not much that is being done to mitigate this risk.
Data storage closets are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Hardware on which facility security software used to run were stored in these ‘closets’ and manned by the IT professionals required for monitoring and operation. These designated areas in office buildings used to be command stations for facility security and other confidential company data.
As such, data storage closets were and still are critical access points in any facility that operates them as this is where all the data lives on top of all the building security functions.
Access control systems have evolved gradually from the ‘lock-and-key’ method to access cards and ultimately wireless technology. Physical security trends point to cloud based hosting and other innovations. These modern solutions are better and more conducive to evolving needs as opposed to simply being a replacement to outdated systems. The focus of newer technology is to increase both security and user convenience, with features such as remote unlock, dashboard management, touchless access, and automated visitor management.
The cloud, as many of us are now familiar due to its widespread adoption, refers to a software platform or service hosted on the internet to enable accessibility from remote locations. Cloud-based storage refers to a model of storing data on the internet.
Users can login in from any device to access cloud hosted data as if it was stored locally in the device. This removes the need for physical interaction with an on-site system, which saves both time and overhead. Possibly more importantly, it allows property or facility managers to easily scale their operations if they choose.
Further, cloud based systems primarily operate on a subscription-based model. This has made sophisticated security and access management systems accessible to key users of all sizes - from small business to large, commercial corporations.
Thanks to these advantages, access management technology is making a shift from on-premise hosting to cloud set-up.
The widespread adoption of cloud-based technology has enabled additional features such as remote unlocking and credential management. For example, security managers can administer security tasks from any mobile device or web browser. If there’s a new hire, it’s also possible to assign access credentials from any remote location. The same is true for revoking access permissions. This is far-fetched from traditional access management approaches where physical presence in a server room was required in order to administer security tasks.
Convenience and flexibility aside, cloud-based technology is targeting the success of property managers by decreasing overhead operations. This saves expenses for them and enables the opportunity to work on and drive new revenue opportunities.
While many offices are still using key card systems, newer innovations are moving away from this legacy approach. Key cards can be lost, stolen, or cloned. Furthermore, these systems come with management and cost overheads that can build up over time. Rather than physical access tokens, modern touchless access control uses mobile credentials or facial recognition for authentication. This ensures convenience as users can move around without having to bring any form of physical access token.
Health organizations recommend reducing common touch points - along with other measures such as social distancing - as a solution to promote more hygienic workplaces. Touchless access control systems support this by authenticating users from a configurable distance. In addition to providing safety and security, touchless access control solutions also ensure a seamless, modern experience at workplace entry points.
Workplace administrators need a secure method to provide secure (and temporary) access to seasonal staff, trainees, contractors, delivery people, and maintenance crews. In many offices, front office staff are used to control access and capture visitor information. This approach can be hectic particularly during peak hours. Visitors may have to wait in line before they are allowed into the building, which can affect productivity and create a negative impression of the workplace. Modern visitor management technology automates tracking of visitors who are entering the building. The system replaces convenient visitor recording methods with a medium that is easily accessible. It also makes it possible to monitor visitors that enter the building for accountability purposes.
Video intercom systems may also be used to ease communication between occupants, as well as provide some form of visitor management. This technology may use simple audio communication, live video feeds, or other tools to remotely verify and grant access to authorized visitors. In addition to providing a seamless, modern visitor experience, this technology also saves time and money, increases productivity, and elicits a positive first impression.
Access control technology is undergoing a radical change to keep up with the evolving security landscape. And thanks to these physical security trends, workplace security managers have better options for protecting their assets, employees, and sensitive information.
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