The Prescription for Curing ID Badge Ills

The Prescription for Curing ID Badge Ills

Increased control and advanced reporting are critical for a safe facility

The Prescription for Curing ID Badge IllsMany hospitals are finding it necessary to increase the number of access controlled openings in their facilities. Whether it’s due to increased violence, additional privacy requirements or emergency preparedness, they are finding the need for increased control and advanced reporting a critical part of keeping their facilities safe. Parallel to this increased security is the need for more advanced credentials to ensure the data being exchanged with every transaction is secure.

In addition, a major value proposition for hospitals is to provide convenient and efficient tools for their staff, especially their doctors. Since physicians often work in several locations, with each typically having a different type of access control system, they are usually forced to obtain, carry and use a different credential at each hospital and clinic. Sometimes, they even need multiple credentials for one location. Ask a doctor what type of credential they would prefer to use and, in loud unity, they would reply, “none.”

Healthcare organizations want to work with their physicians and staff to achieve the right balance between security and convenience. Most of them don’t realize how easy that has actually become.

Credentials Are Getting Smart

There are a lot of credential choices out there, but it’s important that healthcare organizations do their homework and choose wisely. What might have been standard technology in the past, may no longer provide them with the functionality and security they will need in the future. With the advent of smart and mobile credentials, the choice made now may not only affect access control applications, but many other aspects of daily life in a healthcare environment.

Smart credentials provide healthcare organizations with a superior solution over other card products at approximately the same price as a proximity card. Smart cards increase the security of data and provide added convenience to the user. In addition, smart credentials allow for greater functionality by allowing users to use them for access control, logical access, payments and many other functions.

By considering open architecture capabilities, hospitals can easily provide secure access for staff to more applications and add value to the many proprietary systems currently in the marketplace.

Saying that a smart card is open architecture means that it is capable of accepting customized keys for multiple, diversified applications, regardless of whose application it is. This lets hospitals add applications on their own terms, expanding as slowly or as quickly as they like. Also, with memory options of 2K, 4K and 8K bytes, hospitals can get the memory they need, without paying for extra memory they don’t.

As Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is being added to a growing number of mobile handsets to enable access control and many other applications, more and more organizations, including healthcare, are considering joining the bring your own device (BYOD) trend and having staff members use their own smart phones as their access control credentials.

To turn NFC-enabled smartphones into an access control credential, users simply download an app to their smartphone. Then, their access control administrator uses the cloud service to send a secure mobile credential directly to the user’s phone. Once the mobile credential is downloaded, users open the app and tap their smart phone to the reader in the same way they use a card or fob.

For many employees, including doctors, using their personal smart phone would be much easier than searching for a card. While a doctor could use a personal smart phone to get into the various facilities served, the IT staff would have the confidence that the data is being exchanged is encrypted and secure. Healthcare organizations may want to start off using smart phones with their doctors only and later migrate their use with the rest of the staff, providing a choice of credentials that could be used.

BYOD is Becoming a Reality Everywhere

Each and every day, hospital staff are finding it easier to bring and use their personal devices to work in the hospital. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Employees get to work on devices that they like and that are probably more advanced than what is issued to them through their IT department. Plus, instead of carrying around a variety of equipment, they get to choose the one device that works best for them.

Although employees may wish to use their own device, IT teams need to ensure the security/encryption, which is needed for patient and organizational information, is strong, implementation is seamless, and management of software/applications for all of these personal devices doesn’t add vulnerability to the enterprise. IT professionals want strong authentication credentials, the level of security provided by smart credentials.

Unlike proximity and magnetic stripe cards and their readers, smart credentials initiate a challenge and response sequence to initiate conversations with the network. These communications are encrypted using industry standard encryption techniques. By welcoming their involvement and showing the ability to speak their language and answer their questions, you will gain additional layers of approval within the IT organization.

In today’s world, a smartphone can act just like a smart card and can be used for access control and payments, simply extending the functionality of the phone. Any smart phone owner already sees this happening in their everyday life, using their phone for multiple purposes, from game playing or paying for coffee to important work-related tasks. Today, college students and their campus card administrators are using their phones to access their access control systems and pay for meals, laundry services and more.

While the BYOD migration moves forward, there will be a mixed environment of cards and phones. With more and more NFC-enabled phones coming on the market, the shift to phones being used by the majority of people on a healthcare campus will ultimately follow.

People prefer the convenience of using their phones instead of digging for their
cards. Administrators find that using smart phones as badges saves time that can
be better spent on other issues. Assigning the credential to a phone takes less work
than printing and delivering a badge.

What Healthcare Facilities Can Do Now

For those facilities already using aptiQ multi-technology readers, there is no need to
replace readers in order to migrate to smart cards, smart phones or a combination of
the two. These readers currently work with magnetic stripe, proximity and smart cards
as well as NFC-enabled mobile phone credentials all in one reader, providing an easy
migration path to upgrade credentials between any of those versions at their own pace.

If non-smart access technology is being used today, multi-technology readers
should still be installed to help ease future transitions by reading the different types of cards and smart phones at the same time.

Organizations wanting to use NFCenabled
smartphones as their access
control credentials can begin the transition
now. The recently introduced aptiQmobile
secure peer-to-peer (P2P) NFC
mode lets organizations provide the convenience
of using a mobile device today.

This secure peer-to-peer solution
provides several advantages. It lets organizations
implement mobile credentials
ahead of the market by using Android
NFC-enabled phones and Apple iPhones
with a special case that enables NFC regardless
of choice of carriers. But, for
many, its most important advantage is
that it lets healthcare facilities provide
their physicians and staff a convenient
credential that is easy to use for access
control and many other applications.

It is important that healthcare organizations
be prepared for smart card
and NFC mobile credentials, even if
that facility wants to still use proximity,
magnetic stripe or keypad technology at
present. If new readers are needed, they
should select multi-technology readers
that combine the ability to read all of
these credential technologies in a single
unit. That way, when the organization
switches over to smart credentials,
there will be no reason to tear out the
old readers to install smart card readers.
During the transition, the facility can
use both their old magnetic stripe and
proximity credentials
and the new smart credentials.

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Security Today.

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