how does access control system work


Access Control System: What it is and How it Works

In today's modern world, security is of utmost importance, whether it is to safeguard people, infrastructure or assets. To do that, access control systems come into the picture. These systems ensure that only authorized personnel are allowed inside a restricted area. In this article, we will discuss access control systems, its types, and how they work.

Types of Access Control Systems

Access control systems come in a variety of types. However, the main three types are discussed below.

1. Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

Discretionary access control allows the owner of a resource to specify who has access to it and what levels of access they have. The owner, who is usually the system administrator, creates a list of users who are granted access to the system. The users are then given passwords or security tokens to prove their identity. Owners can also specify what level of access the user has to certain resources or files.

2. Mandatory Access Control (MAC)

Mandatory access control is usually applied in more high-risk areas, such as government agencies or military installations. In MAC, access is given according to the job function of a user, rather than the user's identity. The system administrator designates the clearance levels required for each job function, and only those users whose level of clearance matches the access level of a resource are granted entry.

3. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

Role-based access control assigns permissions to employees based on their job position or role. This type of access control is intuitive and easy to manage since employees' roles and positions frequently dictate the types of resources they need to access. RBAC is commonly used in large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of employees.

How Access Control Systems Work

Access control systems rely on several technologies to verify and grant access to authorized personnel. The three primary components of an access control system are an identification system, an authentication system, and an authorization system.

1. Identification System

The identity of the user requesting access to the system is checked first. This can be done via ID cards, biometric identification, or username/password combinations.

2. Authentication System

After identifying the user, the authentication system determines whether or not they are allowed access to the system. This is done by checking if their user identity matches the pre-determined permissions list.

3. Authorization System

The authorization system determines the level of access granted to authenticated users. This means that even if a user has been identified and authenticated, they can only access areas that the system permits.

4. Entry/Exit Management System

Once the user is authenticated and authorized, their access to the system can then be recorded via an entry/exit management system. This system logs in entries and exits made by users to control the flow of traffic in and out of the restricted areas.

5. Monitoring and Reporting

The final aspect of any access control system is the monitoring and reporting system. This system logs in events inside the restricted areas.It is usually used to help security personnel detect any suspicious activity.


Access control systems are an essential tool in ensuring security and safety in today's world. They provide access to restricted areas only to authorized personnel, thus minimizing the risk of data leaks or physical threats. With the variety of access control systems available, it is vital to choose a system that suits the organization's needs best.


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