Critiquing HID's 'Access Control Goes Mobile' Presentation

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Apr 11, 2012

Are Mobile Credentials ready for primetime?  ASSA ABLOY / HID, who have invested heavily in the technology, posted a webcast of their joint 'Access Control Goes Mobile' event at ISC West. Using mobile devices to host access credentials is a growing trend, with recent development centering around the inclusion of NFC technology into credential readers, door hardware, and smartphone devices. In this note, we examine the key takeaways from that presentation.

We have embedded the entire webcast here for reference. (note: the player omits timestamps so its hard to track by time):

In the webcast, HID / ASSA makes a number of important points:

    • NFC credentials will be administered differently than traditional keys or cards. HID stated that (mobile keys are) "a quantum leap in access control" by "replicating existing credentials and depositing them on a mobile device". These differences were demonstrated by HID through "over the air provisioning and revocation" via a web based mobile services portal.
    • In what was introduced as "the next frontier" for IT management control, the growing issue of securing "foreign devices accessing corporate networks" was mentioned but not completely addressed. HID states that while "many different companies are looking it today", the problem still has no comprehensive solution. This point was clearly illustrated by a confusing software demonstration that enables secure VPN connections from mobile devices to a corporate networks, but does nothing to secure or ensure safe condition of end point devices.  
    • "NFC does not include support for Picture IDs" and the feature is not roadmapped for development.
    •  HID acknowledged that mobile credentials are not the answer for every access control situation. They clearly stated "card credentials are not going away" and mobile credentials are "not a direct replacement" for card credentials. ASSA declares that "NFC is only a portion of the complete access control envelope" and is most valuable applied to the 95% of openings currently not incorporated in any electronic access control system. ASSA illustrated this point through the following chart they titled 'The Security Continuum':

Analysis

1. Because NFC credentials rely on interoperability between credentials and devices, credential management becomes a huge operational concern. The process of provisioning  and managing NFC credentials will be unlike anything currently being used. This difference extends even to how these credentials are purchased and shared. Since NFC credentials are not physical objects they must have the ability to be transported from device to device. Therefore, because this technology is still in early versions, many of these interoperability issues have yet to be discovered.

2. BYOD, or 'Bring Your Own Device', is a growing trend and security concern for corporate IT/security departments. According to the presentation, 37% of all tablets sold are used in corporate environments, but owned by employees. As we noted in our NFC examination, successfully managing and administrating devices not owned by companies is an awkward situation. While a variety of policy and authentication programs are being developed, no 'clear answer' exists in the market. HID demonstrated a 'soft token' system in an early attempt to bridge this gap.

3. Not supporting Picture IDs significantly limits the value of NFC. For high security areas (where image verifications are used for dual authentication) NFC still requires carrying a badge photo which undermines the main claimed benefit of NFC. Since NFC technology is designed as a low bandwidth, low energy transmission medium, the time required to transmit high resolutions picture files is excessive and would be prone to transmission error. 

4. Despite being positioned as a game changer, we disagree that NFC will bring access control to new doors. Bringing access controls to the untapped "95%" of doors has not occured even though several cheap alternatives to hard wired access controlled door exist. If the major incentive to move to NFC is additional security, consider that multiple low-cost proximity card leversets have attempted to gain the same market. If NFC's convenience is the push, then consider that keypad operated locks (requiring no external credential at all) have been in the market for many years.

Conclusion

The concerns we raised in our initial NFC analysis still stand, and it is clear that 'mobile credential' technology is still being developed and working through growing pains. However, these vendors make it clear that NFC technology will continue to recieve development attention for the near future.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Facial Recognition Systems Fail Simple Liveness Detection Test on May 17, 2019
Facial recognition is being widely promoted as a solution to physical access control but we were able to simply spoof 3 systems because they had no...
Inside Look Into Scam Market Research on May 17, 2019
Scam market research has exploded over the last few years becoming the most commonly cited 'statistics' for most industries, despite there clearly...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R1 Tested on May 15, 2019
For the past few years, Milestone has released quarterly software updates XProtect VMS platform. What is new and how much impact do the updates...
Access Control Request to Exit (RTE) Tutorial on May 13, 2019
For access controlled doors, especially those with maglocks, 'Request to Exit', or 'RTE' devices are required to override electrified locks to...
Mining Company Security Manager Interview on May 10, 2019
First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) is a global enterprise with offices on 4 continents and operations in 7 countries with exploratory operations...
10 Facial Recognition Providers Review (Secutech) on May 09, 2019
Adding to our 19 Facial Recognition Providers Profiled report from ISC West, IPVM focused on facial recognition technology for our Day 2 coverage...
Proxy Access Control Tested on May 09, 2019
Silicon Valley Access Startup Proxy raised $13.6 Million in May 2019, focusing on mobile physical access control. Beyond the fund raising, Proxy...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact