Comparison of Security Provided by Door Access Systems

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What Is the Most Secure Door Access Control System?

Door Access ControlHow secure are door access control systems?  Pricing can range from less than $100 for a single door to over $1100 per door. What do you get for the money? In some cases, the security level provided can be crucial to your safety.

 

How can we stay ahead of miscreants that are dedicated to breaking through our security systems?  This article summarizes the various levels of electronic security provided by different door control systems. Level 1 provides the least overall security while level 4 provides the highest level of protection. We compared the cost against the effectiveness of each type of system.

 

Level 1 Security – PIN Numbers

Door reader with keypadPersonal Identification Numbers (PIN) readers provide the lowest level of door access control security. A security system that uses PIN access is usually used when you have a small number of users. The system can accommodate a small number of different pin numbers. It is usually used in single family residences, but can also be used in small organizations. The problem is that they may not use unique pin numbers for each person, but rather issue a number that everyone can use.

 

Problems with pin numbers: Pin numbers can be forgotten, or they can be given to other people. This is a very insecure situation where the wrong people can gain access to the facility.  It is difficult to control pin numbers when the approved people change. For example, if a person no longer works at the facility, all the numbers may have to be changed. One other thing identified in some TV shows. Multiple entry of a fixed pin number can create dirt marks on the four keys used for entry. Not the best situation for security.

 

Cost of the System: These systems cost the least. Some door locks include keypads for pin number entry. The prices for the locks range from under $100 to over $350 depending on capability and quality.  The alternative is to use a centrally controlled door access system that includes door readers with keypads, and a central access control panel box.  These systems can handle more people and make it easy to assign unique pin numbers to each person.  The readers cost under $100, but the central control panel can cost over $500, so the total cost depends on how many doors you need to control.

Level 2 Security – Credentials

RFID Door ReaderThis type of door reader uses credentials. IP door readers have become very popular because they are easy to install.  There are a variety of technologies used for the credential such as bar code, magnetic stripe, Wiegand, and RFID.  Today we mostly use RFID credentials that use 125KHz or 13.56 MHz frequencies.  The credential can be a card (like a HID card), or keyfob. Each person must be registered in the system, and they are given a unique credential that allows them to enter at certain times and places. This is probably the most popular type of door control.

 

There are new readers from Isonas that use your smartphone as the credential. These systems use Bluetooth connections and validate the phone by using a unique number that is embedded in your smartphone.

 

Problems with RFID Door Reader Systems: Probably the most insecure part of this system is the credential. It does not actually identify the person; it only identifies the credential that they carry. If a credential is lost or given to another person, it could cause a serious security problem.  There is also a problem with “tail gating,” where another person enters the open door right after the authorized person enters.

 

Cost of RFID IP Readers: IP door readers cost more than the older Wiegand readers (with control box), but they are much easier to install and manage.  The IP readers contain all the intelligence, so you do not need a central control panel. These IP door access systems are very easy to install because they connect directly to your network, and the electric lock connects to the pigtail of each reader. Door access control software runs on your Windows computer or you can purchase a subscription to a cloud service.

 

Here are two examples of IP door readers that use credentials.  The ProRFID IP Readers (model TVIP2R-Pro-POE) cost about $500 (with PoE), while the Isonas IP readers range from about $750 to over $1000 depending on capability. You also require software to register the users and manage the system.  The total system cost includes door readers, access control software, and electric locks.  There is a choice of on-site access control software and cloud based access control software.  The subscription for the Isonas cloud software costs over $395 per year for up to 5 doors. The TVIP-TIRSoft On-site licensed software used with the professional readers costs about $35/door (and is a one time cost).

Level 2.5 Credentials With Video

It is polite to hold the door for someone else, but it could become a security problem.  We classify a 2.5 level system as one that augments the door access system with other security technologies.

 

Tail-gating-door-securityFor example, an IP camera system adds the capability to check who actually entered the door. This adds the ability to assure that the right person has entered the door. The security system would display the picture of the person assigned to a specific credential. The security person can then compare the picture on their screen with the person entering the door.  The security person can also check that another person has not entered before the door has shut (tailing). IP cameras systems can be integrated with access control.  The integration can be as simple as using another monitor or Window to view the door, to more complex systems that display the access control software and the video on the same screen.

 

Problems with RFID Integrated Systems: These systems work well when there is a security person available to monitor the doors. Automated systems that provide automated redundant security are not available at this level.

 

Cost of the integrated surveillance plus access control: The cost of the system includes the camera at the door plus video management software.  The cost for the camera can vary from under $200 to over $500 depending on the size of the area and the environment. Outdoor cameras cost more than indoor cameras. The software cost depends on the video recording system selected. It can range from $100 per camera to over $250 per camera. Total integration of access control with video management software can add about $1300 depending on the number of doors supported.

 

Level 3 Security – Dual Authentication Systems

rfid-reader-keypadThese systems use more than one verification mode. This is usually a credential plus a pin number.  The person entering the door not only swipes their credential but must also enter a pin number. This can prevent a person with a stolen credential from entering the door.

 

Cost of RFID IP Readers with Keypad: The professional RFID readers come with keypads so are priced at $350 per reader. The Isonas readers cost about $800 or more when the keypad is added. Isonas doesn’t currently support dual authentication, but it is expected to be available in early 2018.

 

Problems with Door Reader with Keypad: The dual authentication provides better security, but does not prevent entry of the person uses a stolen credential and also knows the pin number. It does not authenticate the person. It also does not prevent tail gating.

 

Level 3.5 Dual Authentication Plus Video

Adding video helps to prevent tail gating, but requires a security person to monitor the video.

 

Cost of the Integrated Surveillance: The cost of door readers and software is the same as mentioned above, but it does add the cost of a security person.

 

Level 4 Security – Biometric Readers

biometric-readers-conceptThese IP door readers utilize biometric readers instead of RFID credentials. Biometric IP door readers provide the most security because they identify the person rather than the credential. Biometric readers can use fingerprints, or have facial recognition systems. There are also palm readers, and finger-vein systems. Each of these biometric readers provides a variable level of reliability. Fingerprint readers are the least expensive but sometimes have difficulty reading worn out fingerprints. Facial recognition readers provide better reliability but can have problems if someone is wearing dark glasses or something that obscures the face. Finger-vein readers are the most reliable but cost more.  They have all been improved so are impossible to spoof using pictures or fake fingerprints. They all check for a live person. The most secure biometric readers provide multiple modes of verification such as fingerprint plus RFID credential, finger-vein plus fingerprint, or facial recognition plus fingerprint plus credential.

 

The price for these biometric readers has gone down while the reliability has increased. The pricing is almost the same as some of the RFID IP readers. For example, the model TVIP3F-Pro fingerprint plus RFID reader costs about $825.  The model TVIP4FF-Pro fingerprint, plus facial recognition, plus RFID reader costs less than $900 (with PoE connection).  The TVIP4FV-Pro that includes finger-vein, plus fingerprint, plus RFID costs less than $1100.

 

As mentioned before, the total system cost includes access control software and electric locks.  On-site access control software is available but cloud based access control software is not available yet.  The TVIP-TIRSoft On-site licensed software used with the professional readers costs about $35/door (and is a one time cost).

Level 4.5 Biometric Readers Plus Video

Adding video helps to prevent tail gating, but requires a security person to monitor the video.

 

Cost of the Integrated Surveillance: The cost of door readers and software is the same as mentioned above, but it does add the cost of a security person.

 

Comparison Table of Access Control Readers

The following chart summarizes the security level and price of different systems. It provides the cost per reader as well as the cost for a 2-door system.

TYPE OF READER PRO AND CON COST

Level 1

Lock with keypad Pro: Least expensive. Additional electric lock not required. Additional software is not required.


Con: PIN number can be shared or forgotten. Only supports a small number of people

$100 – $350 per reader

Cost of 2-door system: $200 – $700

Door Reader with keypad Pro: Supports more people. Provides central control of all people


Con: More complex installation requiring a central control box. Requires electric lock at the door.

$100 per reader plus $500 for the central box

Cost of a 2-door system: $700

Level 2

ProRFID IP Reader Pro: Connects to the network. Supports RFID credentials. Can be powered using PoE injector plus splitter. A central control panel is not required. Software supports some advanced features such as elevator control and dual authentication.


Con: Requires high power injector and splitter near the door reader. Only has an on-site license access software available (at the moment).

$500 per reader (with PoE network power). This reader includes a keypad.

Cost for 2-door: $1000 plus $70 software license

Isonas IP Reader Pro: A central control panel is not needed. The Door Reader can use your smartphone using Bluetooth as a credential as well as standard RFID credentials.  The reader is small. Can select mullion or wall style.  Connects to the network. Supports RFID credentials. and can be powered using PoE injector, and it doesn’t require a splitter. Optional smartphone credential supported.
Optional Cloud based access control software subscription is available.


Con: More expensive solution. Doesn’t support some advanced features

$700 to over $1000 per reader.

Cost for 2-doors: $2000 plus $395/year software subscription for cloud service

Level 3

ProRFID IP Reader Pro: Includes both keypad and RFID reader. Connects to the network. Supports RFID credentials. Can be powered using PoE injector plus splitter


Con: Requires high power injector and splitter near the door reader. Only has an on-site license access software available (at the moment).

$500 per reader (with the PoE network power). Same reader as above.

Cost for 2-door: $1000 plus $70 software

Isonas IP Reader with Keypad The Isonas solution does not currently support dual authentication.

Level 4

ProBiometric IP Reader Pro: Provides multi-modal biometric capability.  Reads fingerprints, facial recognition, and finger-vein.  Connects to the network. Supports RFID credentials. Can be powered using PoE injector plus splitter


Con: Requires high power injector and splitter near the door reader. Cloud service not available at this time.

$700 to $1000 per reader (with PoE network power).

Cost for 2-door: $2000 plus $70 software license

 

Summary

IP door access control readers provide various levels of security. We classified four levels of security. The lowest and least expensive door control uses a keypad for pin number entry.  The highest level of security is provided by biometric readers such as fingerprint door readers, facial recognition readers, and finger-vein type readers. The multi-modal biometric readers provide the highest level of security because they identify the person rather than the credential they carry or the pin number they remember. Additional security is provided by adding IP camera systems.


If you need assistance selecting the right IP door access control system, just contact us.  We can be reached at 800-431-1658 in the USA, or at 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.