How cloud-based mobile access control is changing security – security today

How cloud-based mobile access control is changing security – security today

March to Mobile: How cloud-based mobile access control is changing security

“Mobile” might seem like a buzzword in the access control industry these days. However, use cases and demand are increasing rapidly. According to a survey from Campus Safety, 62% of respondents purchased access control solutions with mobile credential options in the last two years. Moreover, an An estimated 14.7 million mobile credentials were downloaded worldwide in 2020.

Schools, businesses, healthcare and commercial real estate companies are among just a few industries embracing mobile access control. But is it really worth it to go mobile? And if so, how should IT and security professionals review all available options?

Time saving

When considering mobile device access control, it’s important to understand the pros and cons from both an administrative and user perspective.

IT administrators face increasing challenges when it comes to time management. Automation has resulted in smaller IT teams trying to handle more complex workloads. Consequently, time is at a premium for IT and security professionals.

Mobile keys are especially useful in settings where users change frequently and access permissions need to be adjusted quickly. This is especially true on college campuses where there is a constant cycle of graduates and students leaving. If done manually, provisioning these students would mean spending hours activating and deactivating thousands of physical key cards. The result would be a time-consuming process where administrators must divert resources from other important tasks.

Enterprise and commercial real estate teams face a similar problem. When new hires arrive, administrators must distribute credentials efficiently. Traditionally, these credentials would be manually entered into a computer and the physical key card would have to be programmed.

Cloud and mobile access control is changing that. Instead of a manual process from start to finish, it is possible to automate provisioning with integrations. Integrations like Okta or Google Workspace allow administrators to preprogram role-based permissions globally and then distribute them to a user’s mobile device in just a few clicks—no keycard required. From the user’s perspective, mobile authentication means less time spent waiting and one less task to worry about.

Technology has reached the point where performing this “song and dance” routine is impractical, and many IT and security teams are beginning to understand and embrace the concept of going mobile to save time and money.

Flexibility from afar

The ability to delegate time outside of provisioning may be enough to sway some IT and security teams toward mobile. But the deal gets even sweeter. Mobile keys give IT and security professionals flexibility in how they secure – flexibility that physical key cards and fobs don’t have.

Consider the IT and security teams protecting college campuses. If a student decides they want to change dorm rooms mid-year, instead of retrieving their key card, administrators can adjust access permissions remotely. They can give Billy access to his new room and deactivate access to his previous room without him having to touch the key card. When the security administrator resets the cell phone key, it immediately disappears from Billy’s phone.

The same happens in the situation of companies. If there is integration between identity management and access control systems, then the user will be removed from each system accordingly.

While granting and deactivating new permissions remotely is convenient, mobile flexibility serves a more practical purpose…greater security.

Exploiting mobile credential security

The flexibility of mobile keys makes them ideal for regular credential customization. Security administrators can change permissions on the fly without retrieving a keycard. But how effective are mobile credentials when it comes to security?

From an end-user perspective, physical credentials such as fobs or key cards are many more susceptible to theft, damage and loss, leaving objects vulnerable. When mobile access control is combined with the cloud, lost or stolen credentials can become inactive immediately.

Even the way information is transmitted is more secure with smartphones.

Traditionally, key cards used passive radio signals (RFID) to communicate with door readers. However, there are more current languages ​​of communication. Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are used for data exchange. Each technology is over 20 years newer than RFIDwhich means more up-to-date encryption for security teams.

Mobile access control concerns

Changes are often viewed with a degree of skepticism, and mobile accreditation is no exception. While some IT and security teams have been quick to embrace mobile credentialing for its “cool” factor, others are still wary of embracing the new technology. But how worried should you really be?

Cyber ​​security threats

You’ve probably seen it in sci-fi movies – the protagonist discovers that their phone has been hacked and their most valuable data has been compromised.

In reality, mobile security has come a long way. Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) provide multiple encrypted signals to transmit data from the user’s phone to the card reader. These signals made the mobile device more secure than key cards, which can be lost or cloned.

User acceptance and privacy concerns

Despite the assurances of NFC and BLE, some end users simply don’t want new software on their personal phones. Unfortunately, there is no solution to this issue. Employees may be concerned about their employer tracking their whereabouts or what they do on their personal time.

What about battery power?

Another issue with mobile credentials is battery life. What happens when an employee’s phone runs out of power? Are they stuck or does the letter of credit continue to work?

Progress is being made when it comes to using mobile credentials on a “dead” phone. Recently, Apple announced that iPhone and Apple Watch users will be able to store their build credentials in their Apple Wallet. If, for example, a user’s iPhone dies, the letter of credit can still be used for up to five hours.


Mobile access control is here to stay. End-user demand continues to grow, and security administrators are realizing the convenience and security that mobile credentials bring. For end users, technologies like Apple Wallet and Google Wallet have made it easier than ever to store access badges. Gone are the days of lost keys and leaving the office because of a forgotten badge. For administrators, cloud-based mobile devices have introduced a fast and secure way to distribute new credentials and deactivate old ones globally – saving them time and money. Together, mobile and the cloud will increase efficiency, convenience and security for years to come.

about the author

Mike Maxsenti, Director of Key Partnerships at Genea

#cloudbased #mobile #access #control #changing #security #security #today

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