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Alternatives to keys in business security systems

Keys are fine for the home. You may need a key to your front door, back door, dead-bolt and possibly a few interior doors, and those can be kept on a separate key-ring. For businesses, there are just too many doors that need to be locked to make keys viable. An administrative assistant may need keys to the building, his/her office area, the office of employees he/she supports and any storage closets and rooms that the admin oversees. An executive will need even more keys and they will often be attached to even more sensitive places. This can lead to an overwhelming task for maintenance workers and security operators that have to track all of these keys and possibly have copies available. A master key can help, but the security implications of such a solution are not viable for many businesses.

Advanced, programmable locks and a variety of other technologies are making alternatives to keys possible, and many businesses can benefits from more contemporary methods for managing entry to various rooms and closets within an office.

Magnetic strip cards
In theory, magnetic strip cards are a simple, reliable option. The magnetic strip on the card contains the data of the user, such as the name and job title. The lock on the door can be programmed to allow entry to specific individuals or people with certain job titles. Workers can then use their card to get into all of the doors they need without risk of unauthorized personnel going places they shouldn't be able to go. The problem is that magnetic strip cards are among the easiest to compromise.

Magnetic strips are fairly fragile. As a result, a card that gets rubbed the wrong way, goes through the wash by accident, is stored in a problematic manner or just gets scratched can become inoperable, leading to a lot of hassle for workers. At the same time, magnetic strip cards are also among the easiest card-based storage methods to steal data from. Using magnetic strip keycards is still a viable option for many companies, but you have to think about the implications of such a solution and plan carefully to avoid problems down the line.

Key fobs
For the purpose of this discussion, anything with a chip or radio frequency emitter that can be programmed to work with locks counts as a key fob. This could mean some types of keycards, small wand-like fobs or similar solutions. These solutions use a specialized chip or radio frequency to communicate with door locks and identify the user. In theory, this technology works a lot like magnetic strip cards, but the system that interacts with the locks is more reliable and secure, making it a good option in a wider range of settings. Furthermore, the rise of radio frequency communications systems in smartphones and tablets is making a person's mobile device an option as a key in such security systems.

While key fobs are fairly reliable and secure, they still depend on physical objects that can be lost or stolen, creating risk. Organizations that need extremely high levels of security can often benefit from even more specialized solutions.

Retina scanning, fingerprint analysis and even facial recognition are all viable options for businesses that need to go all out for security. While such solutions can be expensive, they are widely regarded as the best option for environments where highly-sensitive information or assets have to be protected. However, biometric systems can also be bypassed if hackers are able to get into the storage system where biometric data is stored, making IT security measures a key consideration when choosing biometrics.

While every method for securing a business and its assets has its pros and cons, there are plenty of readily available alternatives to keys that are well-suited for corporate settings.

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