Legacy Door Access Control Types
In the access control industry, the term "legacy" generally refers to systems that use old communication protocols, outdated security practices, and traditional credential types like key cards and PIN codes. Legacy access control systems primarily use the Wiegand protocol (also known as the 26-bit card format) which was popularized in the 1980s. Although this technology is still used today, it’s fallen out of favor of security experts because it’s a unidirectional protocol (i.e. it can only send information one way, from the reader to the panel), it transmits card data unencrypted, and is prone to hacking and other security vulnerabilities. Similarly, traditional credentials like key cards and PIN codes are easily lost, shared, or cloned, posing another security risk. Legacy access control systems are commonly seen in older office buildings, where upgrading systems can be arduous due to time, cost, and effort.
There are two major types of legacy access control systems:
Server-based Access Control System
A server-based access control system is one of the oldest types of access control still around today. In this setup, the readers and access control panels are wired to an on-premise server that has access control software installed on it. Optional workstations can be connected to the server, that administrators can use to manage the system. Server-based systems do not use the Internet; rather, everything communicates over a local area network (LAN) connection.
Browser-based Access Control System
Browser-based access control systems (also known as web-based) are similar to server-based systems but they differ in that the access control software is pre-loaded on the access control unit itself, and then accessed via a web browser. Like a server-based system, everything communicates over a LAN, so an Internet connection is not required.
Cost and Application
The costs associated with a legacy access control system include the following:
PCs/servers to host the access control software
In legacy access control systems, dedicated hardware is required in order to run and manage the access control system. This hardware must be purchased and then maintained throughout the life of the access control system.
Additional workstations to manage the access control system
In addition to the access control server, workstations are often used to make maintaining the system more flexible and remote-friendly. The cost of hardware for additional workstations is specially an issue for large, multi-building sites.
Administrative software licenses
Software that is installed on dedicated servers and workstations often requires individual licenses to operate. Also, major software upgrades might come with additional costs, including any IT resources needed to perform the upgrade.
Key cards and fobs might seem like a small expense, but the upfront cost of providing credentials to employees and tenants is a factor to consider. Also, the cost of replacing lost and stolen credentials can add up quickly.
Ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs
Often, legacy access control systems are maintained by dedicated IT resources, which can be expensive.
Legacy vs. Cloud-based Access Control
There are several challenges associated with legacy access control systems:
They're high maintenance
The main difference between legacy systems and cloud-based systems is that in legacy systems, the software resides on hardware maintained by the end user offline, and in cloud-based systems, it resides in the cloud (i.e. on a remote system of servers) maintained by a third party online.
They're not remote-friendly
In a legacy system, since the access control software can only be accessed over a LAN, that means administrators must use in-network devices in order to make changes to the system, making it difficult to manage remotely.
They're less secure
They typically use outdated security methods, and they're limited in the types of credentials they support: PIN pads, key cards, and fobs.
In contrast, cloud-based systems are designed to be remote-friendly, easy to use, and support mobile credentials and modern security practices like end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA).