Understanding and Addressing Vulnerabilities in Access Control Systems

May 31, 2024


access control

Steven Commander, Director of Regulations and Consultant Relations at HID shares his expertise on understanding and addressing the vulnerabilities in access control systems.

In the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, recognising physical security as an essential component of corporate cyber strategy is crucial.

To learn more, watch HID’s on-demand webinar where Steven speaks to LenelS2 and Milestone Systems on revolutionizing cybersecurity strategies.

When people think about access control systems—those essential mechanisms that prevent unauthorized entry into buildings and other physical spaces—cybersecurity often isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

Yet, the data these systems process is crucial to protect. The threats range from card cloning to network attacks, jeopardizing not just people and buildings but entire corporate networks.

As organizations recognise these security gaps, many are working to bridge the divide between their physical and network security operations.

According to Gartner, 41% of enterprises plan to integrate aspects of cyber and physical security by 2025, a significant increase from 10% in 2020.

The Importance of Cybersecurity in Access Control

Granting someone access to a restricted area involves the transmission of sensitive data across various components—credentials, readers, controllers, servers, software clients, and more.

If any part of this chain is compromised, it can lead to severe security breaches.

Compromised access control systems can have dire consequences, extending beyond financial costs.

Intruders could gain access to restricted areas, disable alarms, alter permissions, and steal proprietary corporate information.

Therefore, protecting access data by ensuring its confidentiality, integrity, and availability is paramount.

However, the separation of physical and cybersecurity operations in many organizations can obscure vulnerabilities and hinder remediation efforts.

Challenges in Securing Access Systems

While awareness of the need for cybersecurity in access control is growing, there is still confusion about how to effectively enhance security.

Standards and certifications, such as NIST 800-53 and TÜVIT, are steps in the right direction but do not cover the full spectrum of potential vulnerabilities.

Securing access systems requires more than just evaluating individual components; it involves scrutinizing the entire data transmission process.

This includes how sensitive information about employee identities and authorization privileges is provisioned onto credentials, stored, and managed.

Addressing these risks necessitates a deep understanding of operating systems, active directories, databases, encryption protocols, and algorithms, highlighting the need for close collaboration among diverse teams and experts.

Prioritising Cybersecurity

Ensuring the cybersecurity of access control systems is a multi-stage process that varies depending on the environment. HID recommends a “good, better, best” framework that starts with establishing a baseline and then making incremental upgrades and improvements.

Even with established protocols, it’s crucial to adhere to best practices and manufacturer recommendations.

Small implementation errors can lead to significant security issues. Access control systems must seamlessly integrate with broader network and IT architectures, presenting an opportunity to enhance operational efficiency and streamline IT strategies while reducing risks.

Securing access control systems is complex, but you don’t have to navigate it alone.

Tune in to our on-demand webinar run in partnership with LenelS2 and Milestone Systems for actionable insights on strengthening your cybersecurity strategies to protect your organization against evolving threats.

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