The Four Different Types of Building Access Control Systems

Building Access Control Systems (BACS) help protect both your business and employees by selectively allowing those who can’t and can’t enter your building.

While “security” and “protection of assets and data” were the two most popular reasons companies decided to install a BACS, a third reason has recently emerged: public health.

Employees want to feel safe in their work environment. When the general public has unrestricted access into a building (some of which may or may not be wearing a mask or are fully vaccinated), it can cause many workers to feel a bit uneasy.

Whether you have a single office or multiple locations, an access control system from NTi provides security, peace of mind, and protection against the modern threats of today’s world.

Read on to learn more about the four different types of building access control systems that can help protect both your company and workers.

How Does Access Control Work?

 Before we talk about the different types of available systems, it’s essential to understand exactly how an access control system works. While each system may operate slightly differently, the basic premise is the same:

  • Electronic readers are installed on all doors and access points. This can range from a credit card swipe type of system to a touch-point system wherein the user simply touches their provided badge or card to the reader.
  • The software then allows or denies access based on pre-configured system permissions. Internal software will then track and record who enters and exits each door—including the date and time. Some systems can provide alerts to security or business owners if someone enters after hours.

Role-Based Access Control

Role-based access control systems (RBAC) are highly popular as they allow non-discretionary access into a building and its internal offices. RBACs assign a role to each employee or office visitor. Permissions are then granted or denied based upon the roles.

For example, the Leadership Team of an office will often have unrestricted access. In contrast, a rank-and-file employee, such as a purchasing agent, will only have access to certain building areas.

RBAC is often the quickest and easiest system to manage—as the IT department or administrator only needs to add a new person such as an employee or contractor and then assign them a role.

However, if a person needs temporary access to an area of the building, it could become challenging for the person managing the system to grant it. This is often due to system limitations or configurations.

Rule-Based Access Control

Rule-based access control systems provide an entryway into buildings and office areas based on a set of pre-determined rules, such as access into the lunchroom during certain times of the day. The benefit to having a system like this is the flexibility that it offers the administrators of the system.

Companies who seek to enforce strict accountability and control often find the most benefit in a rule-based access control system. The rules and permissions are highly customizable and allow for maximum flexibility.

Discretionary Access Control

Discretionary access control systems provide the end-user with complete and total control of who can enter the building or internal areas of an office. This type of system utilizes a standard operation system, such as Windows or Linux, and is relatively easy to set up and manage.

Much like the upside to this type of access control system, the downside is that the end-user has complete and total control—and can provide anyone with access at any time. If your company requires greater levels of security and accountability, it’s often best not to put that kind of power into the hands of your employees.

Mandatory Access Control Systems

A mandatory access control system (MAC) provides the greatest amount of security possible. It’s also the most restrictive. Military institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and other businesses with invaluable trade secrets will often install a system like this.

Only the system administrator or security department has access to the management controls of a mandatory access control system. A MAC will provide strict classifications to all users, which grants them access on a case-by-case basis and in conjunction with an already-established security plan.

Which Type of Access Control is Right for Your Building?

 Choosing the right building access control system for your business can be challenging. At NTi, we’ll help you choose the right system that will meet the security demands of your company and provide you with peace of mind.

We have over 30 years of experience providing our customers with the right building access control system for their budget. We seek to provide value at every step while solving your toughest of building access challenges.


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