Near Field Communication and Mobile Access

Times are changing. In the past it was uncommon for anyone to leave the house without their wallet or purse. Now, it is now uncommon for people to leave the house without their mobile devices, especially their smart phones. If you forgot your wallet or purse, oh well. You forgot your phone? Turn that car around as fast as you can! In fact it takes 226 hours for a person to report a stolen or lost wallet. It only takes 68 minutes to report a lost or stolen phone (Unisys, 2012).

With this new need for smart phones, it is an easy and sensible transition to have our mobile phones become our form of identify, way to purchase and, from the door and hardware industry, a way to control access to our secured buildings. More and more time is being spent developing solutions to unlock doors and allow access by using a mobile device with key apps and built in chips or smartcards (credentials).  One swipe of your device in front of a door reader and the lock strike unlatches.  Your phone is becoming the digital key, and there is no need for key fobs, mechanical brass keys or plastic cards.

This Near Field Communication (NFC) technology can be set to allow different levels of access control, just like using a key fob, and different phones can have different access levels. A high degree of security and privacy can be provided with the smart phones, while still being flexible and easy to operate and make changes to the system.  This type of technology is not wide-spread, yet. But it is predicted that in the near future, college campuses, employee entrances to businesses, and hotels will be filled with access control readers that are operated using a smart phone.

The idea of security on the smart phone is always in question. Could someone hack into your phone or phone system and steal your credentials that open your secure entrances?  Smartphone credentials are protected from this theft by using anti-playback technology.  Each time the phone is used for access control, the anti-playback technology changes the code, so one transaction cannot be cloned. The code that allows you to enter once will not work a second time.  Also, the coding that provided access used encrypted credentials and all the information about the credentials is by passwords and pins in case the phone is lost or stolen.

As we become more and more reliant on our smart phones, why not use them as the “key” to our entrances?  By using this new technology, we have the luxury of not having to carry with us one more key, fob or card.

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