Here’s all you need to know about swipe card door access controls

Here’s all you need to know about swipe card door access controls

What is a swipe card access control?

Swipe card door access control systems are made of a number of components, among which the swipe card or mag stripe (short of magnetic stripe) card, and the card reader, are the most important. Swipe cards or magnetic stripe cards work by storing data in a magnetic layer placed on a card. This magnetic layer is capable of data storage by altering the tiny magnetic particles. In case you wondered how your credit card works - that was the answer.

swipe card access control
‍Current credit cards for general use usually include a stripe and a chip

Swipe card access with is used in physical security, but also for credit card payment or identity verification. You must pull through or swipe the card through a magnetic reader to be able to confirm the data stored on it and enable the card access system to do its work.

A swipe card door access control system is a common security solution for premises that need to continually let it and out many same people, such as employees in a large organization. Although the magnetic stripe is the key differential that makes them what they are, swipe cards can contain additional means for storing, reading and writing data, such as RFID tags or microchips. Swipe cards are a convenient and an affordable solution to control access, but they usually provide limited security protection that needs to be supported by extra technology or authentication factor to suffice for top security requirements.

How does it work?

Magnetic swipe card door access control systems use magnetic strips at the back of the card to encode data. The magnetic reader’s head reads the data when you swipe the card through it and enables access.

This is the most common technology used when you are doing your shopping for groceries, when you pull some cash out of an ATM machine or when you present your license as an ID document on specific locations.

When the card access system is made of a standalone reader, all swipe cards will be connected to that single access control device. This is rarely the case, though, as most organizations need either more cards or require additional security which can be obtained from several units distributed in a network. Network or PC-based card access combine multiple magnetic readers in a joint software that can be used to monitor the access events from all readers from a central point.

What are the advantages of swipe card access control over other forms of access control?

Swipe card access control systems have a number of advantages that make them convenient for access control over other technologies, such as RFID or NFC (proximity) cards, smart cards or combination cards:

  • Swipe card access is cheaper than other technologies. The technology to store data in magnetic cards that can be used in hundreds of cards at a low cost.
  • Magnetic cards are interoperable. Unlike RFID devices, which use radio frequencies to connect devices and can incorporate a range of frequencies, swipe cards are applicable in a wide variety of industries and vendors, since they are based on the same technology.
  • Swipe cards are an exclusive security tool. When a magnetic card is lost, the user can ask for a new one to be issued in a short time because it controls clearly defined access points. If a user loses a mobile with an app that controls the swipe card access control system, getting a new phone will usually be needed to put the system in full use.
  • Physical possession of the swipe card is necessary so that the invader can compromise the magnetic stripe and steal data. Most attacks on swipe card data compromise the readers at ATMs or the stored data records with suppliers. For RFID or NFC cards, violations can be made with interception and interference, and the attacker doesn’t need to get to the card.
  • Swipe card access is read-only. Owners can use it only in passive mode, without deployingwriting capabilities and changing the data in a system. Smart cards, on the other hand, use both reading and writing modes.
  • Magnetic stripe cards enable individual tracking and audit trails.

What are the disadvantages of swipe card access control over other forms of access control?

As the most simple and traditional access control method, swipe card access control has some disadvantages over the alternative forms of access control.

swipe card access control
‍It can be frustrating to complete a swipe card transaction if the magnetic layer is damaged
  • Swipe cards can be unreliable. Sometimes, the magnetic stripe can get damaged or corrupted, in turn making the data unreadable and creating difficulties for the person using the card, who will have to swipe multiple times until the data is read properly.
  • In general, magnetic access cards are considered less secure than the alternatives, because it takes less advanced technology to copy the device data and misuse it for theft or stolen identity purposes. These cards are basically most similar to mechanical keys.
  • Magnetic cards cannot cover a range of industries. For example, NFC is increasingly present not only in access control systems, but also in mobile payments, transports, redeeming rewards and many other consumer uses.
  • Swipe card access systems cannot provide multi-technology authentication, unless they are upgraded with additional access control tools, for example, smart cards that can support telephone or Internet lines as backup supply solutions.

Related Information You Might Be Interested:

  1. Top Access Control System Providers

  2. Access Control Components

  3. Best of Access Control Technologies

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