Access control is the process of allowing access to predefined, authorized personnel. This means letting in the right people and keeping the rest of them out. Access control has become more prevalent over the years as the world has changed and industrial espionage is not an uncommon thing. Access control doesn’t just cover the physical aspect of a person being in an unauthorized area, it also covers computer access and security as spyware and viruses are becoming an all too familiar working hazard. There are many types of security devices that are available which generally require users to enter the proper authentication codes before permitting them access to a building, website or server, etc.
In most computer systems and networks, the authorized users will have to enter the right password or set of passwords before they are given authorization to access certain files and information.
The most common physical devices that are used are card swipe machines that have the user’s details embedded in a small magnetic tape or in a chip. The users need to swipe the card into the card reader and authorized entry is allowed only if the card is genuine. You sometimes also have to enter a code number or password, which could be changed weekly or even daily. These cards are about the same size as a credit card and most of them also have your photo on them.
Other types of access control devices use finger print authentication where the users need to press their finger against a fingerprint reading device. This instrument will then check the person’s fingerprints against its database. Another type of security device is a retina scan. In eyeball authentication devices, the retina of a person is checked for positive identification against those in a computer database. Another foolproof method of security is DNA authentication, where the DNA of a user is checked through saliva samples. These access control methods are very expensive and are used in very high security labs along with government buildings, military areas and border crossings, etc.
There are also some simpler and more primitive forms of access control such as fences, gates, wooden, concrete, and steel barriers, barricade tape, and various types of warning signs, etc. However, these devices are generally used in areas that aren’t as high risk. In general, the more sensitive an area or building is, the better type of access control it will have.