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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Basic Knowledge on Access Control Systems

In security, specifically physical security, the term access control refers to the practice of restricting entrance to a property, a building, or a room to authorized persons. Access control is the ability to permit or deny the use of an object (a passive entity, such as a system or file) by a subject (an active entity, such as an individual or process).
The computer security access control is a newly high-tech technology which is designed for the same purpose but which are more convenient, reliable and cost-effective than the traditional physical security. The computer access control includes authentication, authorization and audit. It also includes additional measures such as physical devices, including biometric scans and metal locks, hidden paths, digital signatures, encryption, social barriers, and monitoring by humans and automated systems.

Basic Knowledge on Access Control
1. What consists of an Access Control System?
An Access Control System can be categorized into four parts:
1.1. Controller: responsible for reception and identification of signal, door control and alarming.
1.2. Lock: Except at the time of power on or power off, the lock should lock the door.
1.3. Other accessories: Exit-button, power supply, alarm input/output devices etc.
1.4. Control software: in simple devices, the software are built-in the devices.
2. How identification is carried out by access control?
There are mainly two types of identification measures:
2.1. Biometric identification: using the specific identity features of the passenger, such as handprint, fingerprint, face outline etc.
2.2. External identification: external facilities such as password, sensing card, IC card etc.
3. What is fail-secure?
In normal situation, door is locked when power supply is not available. When the lock is supplied with power through external controller (for example, access controller), the lock will be open. One example is Electric Strike.
4. What is Fail-safe?
In normal situation, door is locked when power supply is available. When the lock is deprived of power supply through external controller (for example, access controller), the lock will be open. One example is electro-magnetic Lock.
5. Will the Fail-safe lock fail to function when power supply failure occurs?
Battery or UPS can be applied for power supply. Normal battery can sustain for 3 to 6 hours while UPS can sustain for several days. Presently, fail-safe mode is widely applied in China , which is due to the consideration of fire fighting demand. The products developed by Anson provide both fail-secure and fail-safe modes.
6. Which mode is better? Fail-secure or Fail-safe?
It depends on where the lock is applied. Fail-safe mode is in accordance with fire fighting regulations. Most of fire accidents are caused by power cable failure. The temperature of the fire in the site will cause lock failure which will stop people escaping from the fire site. In this case, in fail-safe mode, once the power cable fails and leads to power supply failure, the smoke door works and stop the smoke from preventing people escape from the fire site. Fail-secure mode is suitable for application in locations which need high security, such as bank storage. Anson products are designed with the unification of mechanical and electro-magnetic or electric strikes. In case of emergency such as fire, the lock can also be opened by using skewers or keys.
7. What should I pay attention to when install the electric lock?
Direction: Is it unidirectional (toward inside or outside)? Is it bidirectional? Or parallel?
Material: Is it metal (aluminum or steel)? wooden or glass (frameless or with frame)?
Distance: The distance between door panel and door frame. Will the door frame stuck when close the door?
Size: What is the size of door?
Amount: Does the door have one side or two sides?
Function: Is the door for fire-fighting? Storage or entrance only?
Specifics: Are there any special requirements such as door position signal output? Time delay etc?
8. What is residual magnetism?
In a simple way, residual magnetism refers to the situation that magnetism resides when the power is off. In this case, the lock can not be opened. This is very dangerous since in case of emergency (for example, fire) the smoke door fails and the door can not be opened for escaping. The residual magnetism may be a simple thing but which may lead to disastrous consequence!