In today’s rapidly evolving security landscape, the concept of access control has taken on new dimensions. As organizations navigate the return to work, a shrinking labor pool and a changing economic climate, access management has emerged as a mainstream solution to address these pressing concerns. By providing consistent enforcement of access permissions, preventing unauthorized entry attempts and reducing reliance on human capital for access management, security entrances offer an effective approach to risk mitigation that can go beyond what is possible using physical access control systems (PACS) alone.

Filling the security gap

The use of the term “access control” likely evokes the image of an office worker pressing their credential to a card reader in order to receive access into a facility. While these types of technologies have their place, traditional PACS applications can have limitations when it comes to providing comprehensive security and risk prevention.

One major shortfall is the assumption that access control systems can proactively prevent unauthorized entry. The notion that only authorized personnel can gain access to a secured area by way of PACS ignores basic social constructs. For example, it is not uncommon for good-natured individuals to hold the door for others coming in behind them. This practice is harmless at best and catastrophic at worst. Any person attempting access via piggybacking or tailgating could potentially be a threat actor exploiting human nature to gain unrestricted access to the building.

What’s more, most access control devices are ill-equipped to address instances of tailgating or piggybacking as they happen. While many PACS have built-in tailgating detection, these alerts only raise awareness of the issue after the fact. By the time an alarm is raised, the unauthorized individual has already entered the premises. Within seconds, an attacker can carry out their malicious intentions once inside.

It can be challenging for traditional access control systems to proactively address attempts of tailgating and piggybacking alone. Rather, their application on swing doors limits their operation to detect and deter functions while doing little to actively prevent such attempts. Secured entry solutions can help deter, detect and prevent unauthorized entry at the source, thus closing the physical security gap left by a reactive approach.

Deter, detect, prevent

Security entrances can be classified into one of three levels based on their ability to deter, detect or prevent unauthorized entry. Each level of security entrance serves a specific purpose and can be applied based on the security goal at a particular entry point. For example, an unmanned employee entrance may be required to reduce traffic flow in a corporate lobby or larger, visually impactful security entrances may be required to visually deter access at high-security facilities. For this reason, organizations should look to implement a layered application of security entrances to effectively address the security requirements at all access points of their facility.

"The notion that only authorized personnel can gain access to a secured area by way of PACS ignores basic social constructs.”

Security entrances that deter unauthorized access serve as a visual obstacle against intrusion and casual attempts to gain unauthorized entry. These solutions, such as full-height and waist-high turnstiles, act as a “first layer” in a layered physical security approach, particularly at building perimeters or supervised locations. They work by preventing individuals from climbing or crawling over the entrance, discouraging unauthorized entry. While these entrances do not always have sensors or alarms to alert security staff of infiltration, their presence alone serves as a deterrent.

Security entrances that detect tailgating and piggybacking are equipped with access control devices to detect unauthorized entry attempts in real time. Optical turnstiles, for example, not only visually enhance the environment but can also feature detection sensors that can identify when someone tailgates behind an authorized user. If an intrusion occurs, an alarm is triggered to alert nearby security staff to confront the intruder. Optical turnstiles are commonly found in lobbies and reception areas, where visitors and vendors enter the premises.

Security entrances that prevent tailgating and piggybacking offer the highest level of security. These solutions, such as security revolving doors and interlocking mantrap portals, are designed to prohibit unauthorized intrusion. Mantrap portals enforce single entry by utilizing various sensor systems to confirm that the authorized individual is alone in the compartment. When integrated with an access control system, security revolving doors can stop instances of tailgating and piggybacking while confirming the identity of the individual wishing to receive singular access. These systems are particularly suited for securing sensitive areas like executive suites, data or record centers and cash holding areas.

Embraced by the mainstream

 The deter, detect and prevent functions provided by security entrances offer direct solutions to many of the emerging challenges faced by modern organizations.

One industry championing the use of a layered secured entry strategy is data centers. As the need for robust data storage and cybersecurity expands, unauthorized access in this fast-growing market can have severe consequences ranging from data breaches to operational disruptions. Secured entry solutions effectively control unauthorized access while ensuring compliance with industry regulations and addressing rising energy costs. Additionally, security entrances equipped with advanced technologies, like biometric authentication, provide an extra layer of security at data centers, mitigating the risk of credential theft or misuse.

Warehouse and logistics facilities are also discovering the benefits afforded by security solutions for workplace violence and loss prevention. A secured entry strategy in this market involves deploying the appropriate security entrances at various stages of the workflow, such as perimeter/parking lots, facility entry and screening, tracking breaks and lunches, end-of-shift theft deterrence, and facility exits. In this way, secured entry solutions not only create a safer and more secure environment, but also minimize shrinkage in an industry grappling with rising costs.

There are a number of markets where secured entry solutions are now considered core security imperatives for myriad applications, ranging from critical infrastructure to retail establishments and corporate offices. As these organizations face an evolving threat landscape, embracing secured entry strategies becomes paramount to achieving true access control.