Access Control

30 Drawbacks of Key Card Access Control Systems

“I love key cards, why would I switch to anything else?”

Said no one ever… Key card technology was developed 40 years ago, and while it’s a hassle to manage key cards, they are still heavily used because there weren’t better options. However, over the past five years, we are seeing a complete shift away from key cards toward mobile and face recognition based entry systems. This article explains the many drawbacks of key card systems, which has resulted in the popularity toward future-proof solutions like mobile and face unlock access control.

Nobody Likes Carrying Key Cards

In this post COVID-19 world, more and more offices and buildings are moving toward touchless access control systems to enable safer, cleaner environments. Prior to the pandemic, key cards were an operational burden for facilities and workplace teams who had to manage issuing and replacing badges. Bottom line: it’s an antiquated process that is a hassle for the admin and the user.

  • Carrying badges on a lanyard is cumbersome and not a natural look.
  • Most people do not like carrying key cards.
  • People struggle to find their key cards in their bags every time they are at the door.
  • When key cards are forgotten, users are frustrated when they are locked out.

Key Card Systems Have Security Risks and Drawbacks

  • Key cards can be easily stolen and cloned. Key card cloners on Amazon cost only $27.
  • These systems only run inside the building, so you cannot manage them if you are away from the office.
  • Key card systems do not provide the ability to manage/remove access from anywhere. In other words, they cannot operate remotely.
  • Due to these constraints, there can be delays in removing access for security breaches and troublesome employees.
  • According to security experts, most companies still have large number of key cards in circulation that belong to past employees and visitors, which opens up a huge security risk.
  • Your office and security team is working from home, remotely post COVID-19. These systems require them to be present in the office, exposing them to additional risks. It also increases the liability on the company.
  • Most key card systems run on insecure network communication, using HTTP or encrypted connections. This can be a weak spot for hackers to tap into your company network. Think it can’t happen to you? Most recently, Garmin had a major hack into their systems and had to pay out $10M in bounty.
  • Legacy systems require complex network changes to the firewall, opening up more weak spots and causing a lot of stress to IT teams.

Key card cloner / copier

It’s easy to clone any key cards with a cheap cloner you can buy on amazon.

Legacy Access Control Systems Provide Poor Admin Management Experience

  • Access systems run on legacy Windows machine.
  • Key card systems run legacy software that still looks like it was built in the ’90s.
  • Another drawback is that management teams need extensive training programs to learn how to use these complex systems.
  • Most companies need to hire employees with specialized technical skills to run and operate these systems.
  • It takes up a lot of time and effort to run a key card creation workflow: Buying new cards every few weeks, setting up printer stations for badge photos, copying card numbers, printing card numbers, etc.

Key Card Systems Cause Scalability Issues

  • You can’t manage multiple buildings on legacy systems because they only operate inside a given network connection in a building.
  • Key card systems cannot handle more than a small number of doors since they need to be on the same network to operate correctly.
  • You cannot remotely revoke access to terminated employees, which causes delays and leaks in access.
  • You cannot pre-authorize or give out temporary access via a text message or link, unlike cloud based access control systems

Key Card Systems Are Expensive to Operate and Manage

  • According to Fivestars, with their legacy access control system, they had to create 2-3 key cards “every day” running a 200 person office.
  • You need to keep buying key cards every few weeks because people lose them all the time.
  • Access control systems require scheduled maintenance that require a full day of updates every 6 months. Access control systems are completely down during those times.
  • Companies typically charge $150 – $250 / hr to perform these types of updates.
  • Proprietary key card formats from companies like HID require purchasing special expensive versions that are only supported by those companies.
  • There is a ton of training cost involved in teaching your staff how to operate these legacy systems.
  • Admins spend anywhere from 4 – 12 hours a week just issuing key cards to employees and visitors.
  • Because key cards are easy to clone, you need to have someone check badge photos at every entrance if you want high security.

COVID-19 Considerations for Access Control

Every business is trying to minimize high-touch surfaces in order to protect their employees and visitors. Swiftlane has been busy helping companies rethink their access control post-COVID-19 by offering touchless solutions and health screening tools. It’s our priority to help enable a privacy first touchless future, which means the future of access control needs to be touchless as well.

Contact us to learn more about our cloud based access control solutions that create safer more delightful experiences for all users, managers, and admins. It’s time to eliminate the hassle and burden of key card systems.