Wiegand in Access Control: A Kisi Guide

Wiegand protocol has existed for 40 years but still controls your access system. Read on for discovering how it works and alternatives

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What is a Wiegand Device?

Wiegand refers to the technology used in card readers and sensors. This system is a wired communication interface that operates between a reader and a controller. Typically, Wiegand technology is found in cards, fingerprint readers, or any other data-capturing devices. This is most commonly used in access control applications.

The wire communication aspect of these devices comes from a set of embedded wires in a Wiegand card. These devices follow a similar basic function that we see in bank cards. However, a bank card will use a band of ferromagnetic material instead of wiring. The wiring in Wiegand devices makes the systems harder to duplicate.

In summary, Wiegand devices are cards and any kind of data reader that operates on a special wire communication system. These need to be used with a Wiegand sensor in order to work.

What is a Wiegand Reader?

A Wiegand reader, or sensor, is used to pick up the information on a Wiegand device. Some of the information held on these devices include:

  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Employee identification information
  • Criminal records
  • Medical histories

The set of wires that contains this information is incredibly difficult to counterfeit or duplicate. In order for these systems to be utilized, a Wiegand reader will pick up the information found on the device. This is what we call the Wiegand effect.

If you are interested in finding out more about the inner workings of these units, you will need to look into the wiring diagram. Here is a great example of a Wiegand wiring diagram to see more about how these devices work.

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What is 26 bit Wiegand?

A complete Wiegand system includes the device that holds the data, as well as the reader. The specialized wired format of communication between the reader and access control technology is key here. When dealing with these devices, you will also come across the term “26 bit Wiegand”.

26 bit is the encoding used by the readers and proximity credentials. Basically, this is the protocol of the data found on your Wiegand device. 26 bit is the industry-standard format of open encoding when it comes to access control systems.

The data encoded using this kind of format offers a huge amount of possible facility codes and unique card numbers. This helps to keep your data more secure in the Wiegand system.

What is an HID Prox used for?

HID prox refers to a type of card that is commonly used in access control situations. HID prox cards, or simply HID cards, are used in conjunction with specialized readers. These cards need to be placed within close proximity of the readers to pick up the data and allow for access.

The cards use RFID embedded technology to make them easy and convenient to use with readers. These are often utilized for opening doors, or on public transport systems.

HID cards use radio frequencies or special microprocessors to work with the reader.

What is the Wiegand Effect?

The Wiegand effect refers to the behavior of magnetic fields that comes from the specially designed wiring of the above-mentioned systems. This effect occurs when a Wiegand device is placed in contact with a Wiegand reader.

It produces a nonlinear magnetic effect generated in this specially annealed wire. The kind of wire used in a Weigand system is important here. This wire is a low-carbon Vicalloy. It is a ferromagnetic alloy of cobalt, iron, and vanadium.

When you use an ID card or access control device to open a security door, for example, the Wiegand effect is taking place. It is this magnetic effect between the wiring and reader that makes your device work.

From a security standpoint, Wiegand systems present several challenges: here you can read more about how HID reader can be hacked due to vulnerabilities in the Wiegand protocol.

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