NFC enabled mobile access in a physical access control world

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NFC technology is transforming the world of physical access control. With next-generation readers and credentials, there is a significant transformation under way in how secure identity is delivered and managed.

Digital keys and portable identity credentials are technology independent and can be deployed for use on smart phones, microprocessor-based cards, contactless smart cards, USB tokens and related devices

ASSA ABLOY mobile keys and HID Global provide mobile security solutions and secure identity management.For decades we have used physical access solutions such as magnetic stripe and smart cards to carry around our identities, but in today’s mobile world, we now have the opportunity to embed them in a variety of portable devices. This will enable us to use products like NFC smartphones, USB tokens, memory sticks and microprocessor-based cards to open doors, buy tickets and execute other secure transactions. In order for this to work, however, we need a new way to securely provision identity and embed it into these portable devices.

Contactless solutions have provided reliable service for nearly a decade while becoming the standard for efficient, secure and effective access control. Now, the industry is developing an access control architecture for a new era of advanced applications, mobility and heightened security threats.

Next-generation readers using standards-based, device-independent data structures will enable access control solutions that can operate on multiple device types with varying security capabilities. It will be possible for an identity object stored on one device to be ported to – and interoperate with – another device, with ease and without strict constraints.

Additionally, next-generation access control readers and credentials will also be able to provide an additional layer of security on top of device-specific security. Secure objects will act as a data wrapper and provide authentication and additional encryption. The objects will be bound to specific devices by utilizing device-unique properties, which will help prevent card cloning.

The coming generation of reader platforms using device-independent data structures will also use open standards such as Abstract Syntax Notification One, a data definition that allows for an infinitely extensible object definition. This definition can support any piece of data, including data for access control, biometrics, vending, time-and-attendance, and many other applications.

In addition to enabling credential portability, the coming generation of reader and card platforms will forge new territory in the area of sustainability. Intelligent power management will reduce reader power consumption by as much as 75 percent compared to standard operating mode, and manufacturers will move to the use of recycled content.

This is a summary of the article "The next generation of Access Control: Virtual credentials" published in the magazine Security Technology Excecutive - Access Control June issue 2011. By Brad Jarvis, Vice President of Strategic Product Initiatives HID Global