Access control challenges and innovations

January 25, 2024
15 min read

Access control is a pivotal component of modern security, ensuring that the right people can enter designated areas while keeping unauthorized individuals out. However, this seemingly straightforward concept often presents a complex challenge for businesses and organizations.

Traditional methods:

Traditional access methods, such as physical keys or access cards, continue to be the choice for many businesses. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), nearly 65% of businesses opt for these established access control methods. 

However, it's important to note that in addition to keys and cards, some businesses also rely on security codes. While these methods have served us well, they have their pros and cons. For instance, some companies or hotels might use easily guessable codes like "1234," which, although convenient, can compromise security.


Familiarity and simplicity: People have been using physical keys to lock doors and access cards to enter buildings for decades. This familiarity means that users don't need extensive training to understand how these systems work. This can result in a smoother and faster transition when implementing access control measures in various settings, from homes to offices.

Low cost and ease of replication: One significant advantage of traditional access control methods is their cost-effectiveness and ease of replication, particularly during the initial implementation phase. This makes them an attractive option for small businesses or organizations with budget constraints, but that is true only if other systems don't allow that in a more simplest way, such as cloud based access control systems where everything works in a digital way.

No connectivity dependency: Traditional access control methods function autonomously, relying on internal networks, bolstering security by avoiding internet-based vulnerabilities. However, they have limitations in terms of flexibility and are susceptible to unauthorized duplication, as seen in copying keys or access cards.


Security risks: Physical keys and access cards are susceptible to loss, theft, or easy duplication. If someone gains unauthorized access to a key or card, it can lead to security breaches. The lack of identity verification associated with these methods makes it challenging to prevent unauthorized use.

Usage difficulties: Traditional access control methods can inconvenience users, especially in urban settings where numerous service staff members require access. Access card reader malfunctions can also lead to delays and frustration. While this may not be a major issue in small offices, it becomes a significant challenge in larger urban environments.

Lack of granularity: Traditional systems often lack granular control, making it difficult to manage access permissions with precision. This can result in situations where individuals have access to areas or data that they don't actually need for their roles, potentially compromising security.In some instances, access might be restricted by the card to specific areas, but these restrictions can be inflexible and challenging to modify, limiting adaptability.

Integration challenges: Integrating traditional access control systems with other security technologies like closed-circuit television (CCTV) can be complex and costly.  In many cases those systems work independently in their own network that doesn’t allow checking some security aspect easily. This limitation can reduce the overall effectiveness of a security infrastructure, as these systems may not work seamlessly together. 

Scalability issues: In the urban landscape, traditional access control systems can face scalability challenges, especially when new buildings are added to the city's infrastructure. As the cityscape evolves with the construction of new buildings, the task of accommodating additional access permissions and managing a growing number of keys or cards can become inefficient, potentially creating security vulnerabilities.

Compliance difficulties: Meeting regulatory compliance requirements, especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or finance, can be challenging with traditional access control systems or such systems are rather expensive. Compliance often demands more robust audit trails and access monitoring capabilities than these systems can provide. For example if we have one key/card we can’t control how it is used, so the audit log can’t provide any info in such a case.

Limited remote access: Traditional methods typically lack remote access capabilities, limiting flexibility in managing access. In today's increasingly remote and mobile work environment, this limitation can hinder efficient access management. Usually they use codes/temporary cards that can’t be changed or revoked remotely, for example guests that should have access once can reused it.

Operational hurdles: Operational challenges are prominent in urban settings. High user turnover and diverse access needs, along with the constant flow of temporary visitors, strain manual processes. Managing these complexities increases the risk of errors and security lapses. The need for adaptable solutions in urban environments becomes evident in these challenges.

The solution to these problems lies in the implementation of innovations: Mobile-based access control.

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and smartwatches, are becoming the keys of the future. A recent study by MarketsandMarkets predicts that the mobile access control market will grow at a CAGR of 12.7% from 2021 to 2026.


Convenience: Mobile Access Control leverages smartphones as authentication tools, providing users with a convenient and touchless way to gain entry. People tend to carry their smartphones everywhere, reducing the risk of forgetting or losing access tokens.

Remote management: Administrators can remotely manage and monitor access permissions, making it easy to grant or revoke access on-the-go. This is especially valuable for businesses with changing access needs or remote work arrangements.

Enhanced security: Mobile access control can integrate biometric authentication or multi-factor authentication (MFA), adding an extra layer of security to the authentication process. Biometrics, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, are difficult to replicate. So a mobile device provides an additional security level itself, when a device is lost it doesn’t mean that someone may have access to it.

Cost-Effective: One key advantage lies in the elimination of the need for physical cards or keys. This, in turn, reduces both issuance and replacement costs significantly. Furthermore, the "bring your own device" (BYOD) paradigm contributes to cost savings. Under the BYOD approach, individuals use their personal smartphones as access credentials, relieving the organization of expenses associated with issuing and maintaining physical access cards or keys. This cost reduction not only streamlines budget allocation but also aligns with the modern trend of leveraging personal devices for secure and convenient access control.


Limited accessibility for some users: Some older individuals don’t have modern mobile phones or may not be comfortable using them. It's difficult to provide an exact percentage since it varies so widely, but it's worth noting that mobile device adoption among older adults has been increasing over the years as technology becomes more user-friendly and integrated into daily life. Many older adults use mobile devices for communication, accessing information, and staying connected with family and friends.

Privacy concerns: Storing personal data or access information on smartphones can raise privacy concerns. Personal data on cloud based solutions stored in data centers of TIER3 or TIER 4 levels, any locally stored data should be encrypted. Therefore organizations must ensure robust data protection measures and compliance with privacy regulations.

Device compatibility: Compatibility with various smartphone models and operating systems can be challenging, potentially limiting the user base or requiring additional investment in software development. But this problem also becomes less and less important, mobile device development moving too fast.

In conclusion, the evolving access control landscape demands a transition towards innovation, enabling businesses to embrace versatile and customized methods that align with the dynamic security needs of the present era. The one-size-fits-all approach is giving way to tailored, efficient, and secure solutions.


1. Title: "Mobile Access Control: Survey and Proposed Framework". Authors: Ibrahim S. Alnomay, Ahmed F. Aborokbah. Publication: IEEE Access, 2019.

2. Title: "A Review on Mobile Access Control Systems: Challenges and Security Issues". Authors: Khamis Awadh, Abdelaziz Ahmed, et al. Publication: 2019 International Conference on Cyber Security and Protection of Digital Services (Cyber Security), 2019.

3. Title: "The Evolution of Mobile Access Control". Authors: Tony Diodato. Publication: Security Magazine, 2016.

4. Title: "Mobile Authentication and Access Control in IoT". Authors: Xiaofei Xing, et al. Publication: Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2017.

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