how access control system works



Access control systems are an essential security solution for businesses and organizations that want to secure their facilities, assets, and protect their employees. These systems regulate access to a specific area, ensuring only authorized personnel enter the area.

This article aims to shed light on how access control systems work and the different types of systems available in the market.

Understanding Access Control Systems

Access control systems are devices or software applications that grant or deny access to a specific area. They employ a combination of identification technology, authentication mechanisms, and action requests to control access.

They can be used to secure building entry points, control access to restricted areas, and manage access for employees, visitors, and contractors. An access control system consists of three critical elements:

Identification Technology- Access control systems use various identification technologies to determine the identity of an individual seeking access. Such technologies may include smart cards, key fobs, biometric readers, PIN codes, and proximity cards.

Authentication Mechanisms- After the identification process has been completed, the system verifies the credentials presented. This process happens through a central server that contains a database of authorized personnel, their access rights, and their personal rules.

Action Requests- Once the identification and authentication process has been completed successfully, the access control system can then grant or deny access as required.

Types of Access Control Systems

There are four types of access control systems that are commonly used in organizations. These systems differ in their design, functionality, and deployment.

1. Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary Access Control or DAC is a type of access control system that is implemented at the discretion of users. It allows users to specify who can access a particular resource. DAC systems work based on the identity of the user and their permissions that have been assigned. It is predominantly used in small organizations and is administered by the end-users themselves.

2. Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory Access Control, or MAC, is a system that is deployed in highly secure environments such as government organizations or the military. A central authority assigns permission levels to users, and access to files is only granted if they fulfill specific security clearance standards.

3. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-Based Access Control or RBAC is an access control system that employs roles as the foundational principle. Access rights are granted based on the role that an individual has in the company. RBAC provides an organized and efficient way to manage access in large organizations as it allows for better segregation of duties and responsibilities.

4. Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

Attribute-Based Access Control or ABAC uses attributes to determine access. These attributes could include data related to location, time, device used, job position, and more. Attributes contain crucial information about the user, and the access is granted if the attributes match the authorization rules.


Access control systems are a necessary security solution for businesses that want to ensure their safety and security. The identification technologies and authentication mechanisms in an access control system ensure that only authorized users gain access to specific areas.

A basic understanding of the types of access control systems available is crucial for organizations to choose the best system that can meet their security needs. Discretionary Access Control, Mandatory Access Control, Role-Based Access Control, and Attribute-Based Access Control are the commonly used systems available.


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