Mobility is without a doubt a huge piece of the IT ecosystem’s future. With this, the spotlight turns toward mobile access and the doors it opens for future users. Siva Shankar Maheswaran, End User & Consultant Business Manager, HID Global, discusses current and future trends in mobile access control.
What is mobile access?
At HID Global, we define mobile access as the use of smart devices as digital keys that could gradually replace mechanical keys and physical cards as part of a centralised access and identity management system that can adapt to evolving threats and business requirements. We expect that it will improve the user experience, especially with innovative future capabilities such as using gestures for opening doors and gates. However, in today’s environment secure identity technologies enable organisations to use a combination of smart cards and other smart devices in a growing ecosystem of interoperable products and applications.
Can you please tell us more about today’s access control platforms?
Increasingly, we are witnessing that today’s access control platforms are capable of delivering more sophisticated credentials and new credential form factors including mobile devices. Typically, they also support open standards so organisations can evolve beyond current capabilities, add features, and adapt to changing security threats. With the correct foundation and planning, organisations can solve today’s challenges, prepare for new capabilities such as mobile access control and add a diverse variety of new applications as required. They can pave the way for integrated, multi-layered physical access control (PACS) and IT security solutions that cover all of the organisation’s networks, systems and facilities.
When do you anticipate the adoption of mobile access?
We anticipate that within the next five years. Users will soon be carrying multiple secure identities on a single card or phone that can replace all previous mechanical keys and dedicated one-time password (OTP) hardware for physical and logical access control. This card or device will be part of an access control ecosystem that provides a seamless user experience and can flexibly scale and adapt while delivering growing value to the organisation.
What technological advances are available for realising the mobile access vision?
At HID Global we believe that technologies for realising the mobile access vision already exist and are poised to change how we use secure identities for many applications. Take for instance, any smart device whether a traditional card or a device with wireless technology such as Bluetooth Smart or NFC, now has the potential to become a trusted credential used for authenticating individuals. Meanwhile, advances in converged back-of-house technologies are also enabling strong authentication and card management capabilities for computer and network logon. These advances ensure that physical and logical identities can be managed on a combination of plastic cards and smartphones. The main objective is not to just simply substitute one credential form factor for another across isolated use cases but to leverage mobile technologies to build unified solutions for ensuring secure access to the door, to data and to cloud applications.
Could you please tell us more about Bluetooth Smart that you just mentioned?
Bluetooth Smart is a wireless technology that smartphones can use as their short-range connectivity technology. It will also have long enough reach so that users can open doors with a simple movement of the device as they walk up to a mobile-enabled reader. This new gesture-based technology capability offers a new user experience and new ways to open doors and parking gates while laying the foundation for a wide range of additional future applications.
From your perspective how will mobile access be adopted in the future?
One of the biggest developments for our customers in the coming years, as I have already spoken about will be growth in mobile access adoption. Smartphones are expected to become an integral part of the ecosystem for the creation, management and use of secure identities. For example, in some scenarios, phones will replace cards, but in many others they will supplement cards to enable a more secure and user-friendly experience. The use of smartphones to receive digital credentials and “present” them to readers will co-exist with existing capabilities to generate one -time passwords for accessing network or cloud- and web-based applications. Users will simply take the same card or phone they use for building access and use it in conjunction with a personal tablet or laptop to authenticate to a VPN, wireless network, corporate intranet, cloud- and web-based applications, single-sign-on (SSO) clients and other IT resources. Within this environment, strong authentication will continue to grow in importance in the face of a rapidly changing IT security threat environment and will also move to the door. There will be increasing use of other authentication factors including biometrics.
How does this fit into the broader ecosystem?
The latest secure identity technologies enable organisations to use smart cards and other smart devices in a growing ecosystem of interoperable products and applications. Within the next five years, our customers will be able to use these cards and phones as a replacement for all previous mechanical keys, physical access cards and dedicated OTP logical access authentication hardware, as part of an extremely flexible, centralised access and identity management system that can adapt to evolving threats and requirements, improve the user experience, and deliver steadily growing value over time.