Blog
07.07.22

Facial Authentication: A Solution to Proximity Card Shortages

The global chip supply chain has been in shambles since the pandemic started in early 2020, and it doesn’t appear to be recovering any time soon. From cars being shipped without CarPlay to businesses that are unable to obtain proximity cards for security purposes, it appears no industry is immune.

Businesswoman wearing badge and holding laptop

How Proximity Cards Work

Proximity cards and fobs are widely used throughout corporate enterprises. You have likely used one before and may have simply referred to it as a badge. These badges are used for more than just a fashion statement.  Inside a proximity card, the cardholder's credentials are contained which grant access to a controlled environment if the cardholder is authorized to access the designated space. For example, some individuals have locked business buildings, and only those with an employment badge, or employee proximity card, can gain entry. While other businesses may have spaces that are only accessible to certain employees with particular credentials. Therefore, not every employee’s proximity badge would let them into these areas, only those with the appropriate credentials, which are stored within the card itself.  

Chip Shortages Impacting Business Security

Proximity cards function when the antenna inside the badge is powered when within range of a powered card reader.  When the card receives power, it utilizes radio frequency (RFID) to transmit the data stored on the card to the reader. Due to the RFID chip shortage and ensuing supply chain challenges, businesses have been unable to get proximity cards manufactured and delivered in a timely fashion. Without replacement cards,  security infrastructure becomes at risk.

This is certainly an unprecedented time.  And this is a problem that is not going to be solved immediately. As more employees return to the workplace, the demand for cards will likely increase - exacerbating the issue even more.  

Many businesses are reviewing their security posture to determine if an alternative approach is feasible. Is there a way to improve security and make a safer workplace given these new constraints?

Using Biometric Security Methods

Many businesses have found using biometrics as a security method is not only a great alternative to proximity cards but also an enhanced security option. Unlike proximity cards that could be lost or stolen, biometrics use factors that are unique to each individual.  The use of an individual's biometrics as their credential increases the security posture of their business.

Facial Authentication 

Facial authentication is another tool in the biometric arsenal; however, unlike its predecessors, it offers hands-free, frictionless access. Tools like the Rock, developed by Alcatraz AI, can authenticate the face of individuals attempting to gain access to a physical space, with that of those on the allowlist, and allow or deny access accordingly. Not all facial authentication products are equal.  The Rock allows for a simplified automatic enrollment and uses deep learning algorithms to adjust as the lighting or individual changes over time.  The Rock also includes anti-tailgating features to notify the appropriate staff if an unauthorized attempt is made to access a secured area.

Using Biometrics As a Proximity Card Replacement 

Given the RFID chip shortage, many businesses are seeking alternative security methods. While biometrics is not the only option for access control;  others seem archaic when compared to today’s technology.

 A business could revert to a physical lock with metal keys, or install a pin pad requiring a code - yet this is unlikely. Now is the time to look toward the future and install systems, like the Rock, that offer uncompromising protection without the typical inconveniences.

Installing the Rock

Whether you are replacing a less reliable security measure or adding to an existing stack, installing the Rock is simple. Affix the device near an access point, integrate it with your ACS, then begin the enrollment process. The enrollment process itself is also just as easy as opening your phone. Stand in front of the device to let it analyze the points on your face. Once that is complete, your face is converted into binary code with 0 chance of being reconstructed into any sort of image. This is a crucial fact when comparing other biometric devices. The Rock has a proprietary algorithm that links your binary biometric data code with your profile already stored in the access control system of your building. 

Using Biometric Security Methods with Proximity Cards

As mentioned earlier, proximity cards can be lost or stolen, so even businesses that use them for access control have found themselves seeking out other security methods to implement a multi-factor authentication approach. Given the enhanced security biometric access control offers, many are choosing to add it to their security stack. By doing so, even if a proximity card is lost, shared, or stolen, access would not be granted to an unauthorized individual because they would not pass the biometric portion of the access control requirements. 

Until the RFID chip supply chain can meet the demand, the harsh reality is that businesses must find an alternative way to authenticate individuals for physical access. Implementing an entirely new security system can be a bit daunting. From researching what is best for the business, as well as its employees, to the actual implementation, and everything in between. Fortunately, there are biometric security businesses, like Alcatraz AI, that help make the transition to enhanced security as seamless as possible. 

Schedule an in-person or virtual demo for the Rock

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