Problems with Access Control Systems

September 18, 2022 By Mid-Atlantic Controls 5 minute read

A keycard user having access control problems.

Access control systems are supposed to create a more efficient way for authorized individuals to enter an otherwise restricted or controlled area—while creating a verifiable paper-trail record of entries and exits.

The vast majority of access control issues stem from:

  • Outdated equipment
  • Keycards falling into the wrong hands
  • Incorrect setup
  • Lack of integration with other building systems


To some degree, all four might be causing problems. Read on to learn more about common faults with access control systems and how to:

  • Integrate access control systems with other building systems
  • Identify when it’s time to upgrade access control equipment
  • Discover several strategies to help mitigate risks associated with keycards falling into the wrong hands

How Important Is Your Access Control System?

An employee having access control problems while using face recognition to enter a room.

It’s very important to determine how significant of a role security plays at your facility or place of business. 

Could a single security breach be enough to bring down your entire organization?

If the answer is “yes,” then your business needs to take access control very seriously.

Solutions include budgeting accordingly and regularly updating your security systems every few years.


Don’t Let an Outdated Access System Put Your Organization at Risk

If your organization prioritizes security, not keeping up with the latest, most effective advances in the field could put your entire organization at risk

Security technology is a bit of an arms race. As soon as new technology hits the market, hackers, burglars, and other criminals are working on ways to circumvent that equipment.

How Often Should Access Equipment Be Updated?

Upgrading an entire access control system can be daunting because there are often many doors that require new wiring and physical equipment. It’s often possible to upgrade specific components without replacing the entire system at once.

If security is a low priority for your organization, an access control system should be able to function for quite a few years without much intervention. If security is a high priority or legally required for your organization, you’ll want to bring in a technician to inspect and, if necessary, update the system every few years.

All Keycard Systems Have Problems

An employee using a biometric access control system to enter a room via their fingerprintTo some degree, any keycard system has at least one inherent weakness—the system can’t ensure the identity of the card wielder.

Other risks include:

  • Hackers can buy cheap keycard cloners on sites like Amazon
  • Inability to remove access in real-time
  • Cannot manage cards and card readers remotely
  • Many keycards run on highly insecure network communication systems
  • Legacy systems have a lack of role-based access


Fortunately, advances in biometric technology are helping to alleviate this issue by making fingerprint and retinal scanners more affordable. 

Generally speaking, biometrics is where the access control industry is heading.

Mitigating Risks with Keycard Systems

For those still using keycard systems, there are several ways to help mitigate the risk of someone gaining access to an area without proper authorization. 

As an organization, you should set strict rules surrounding how quickly lost keycards must be reported. The sooner the keycard is reported to the facilities team, the quicker that card can be disabled.

Combining Keypads & Keycards

Inevitably, employees will lose keycards. One way to add an extra level of security is to combine a keypad with a keycard system. Having to enter a key code in conjunction with a card helps limit access to someone with a stolen card. 

A facility or business owner might want to reserve this strategy for specific high-priority areas within a building, special after-hours access, or perhaps require both at all access points. Some access control systems also offer AI that will utilize facial recognition, just as your cell phone does to verify your identity.

Integrating Access Control With Other Building Systems

There are several benefits to integrating access control with other high-quality building management systems. 

Streamlining multiple systems under a single platform can help facilities teams save time and manage their buildings more efficiently, especially for multi-location organizations.

Access Control Integration Helps Buildings Operate More Efficiently

In addition to saving time, integrating an access control system with environment systems can help businesses save money and reduce energy use. The physical location of each employee can be mapped out to help the building operate more efficiently and react accordingly to capacity needs and changes.

Take this after-hours scenario, for example: Joe comes into the office on a Saturday. Instead of adjusting the temperature of the entire building and having lights on everywhere, an integrated system will know exactly where to channel air and turn on lights pertinent to Joe’s immediate work area.

Access Control Secures Against Theft and Unwanted Intrusion

Any business that needs to take security seriously should consider some type of access control because these systems are far superior to metal keys. The type of access system and frequency in which that system gets updated should be dictated by the business's specific needs. 

Contact Mid-Atlantic Controls to learn more about access control and building integration options.

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