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The 2021 State of Access Control Report

The fundamental responsibilities for organizational security departments were disrupted by moves to remote working and new regulations for managing access to physical spaces. A recent study finds that access control is shifting to mobile, but the merging of physical and logical access control systems still faces many challenges that impede the journey to a more digital experience.

These findings come from a yearly survey of security and IT professionals on the state of access control technology—its use at their organizations, important trends, and future plans. This survey, conducted in 2020, compares the results of surveys completed in prior years to reveal trends, challenges, and successes over time.

This year’s survey highlights the tension between planning and investing in physical security to combat the evolution of known threats in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic that changed the nature of work. Comparing data between 2020 and prior years, the data indicates that companies are increasingly selecting mobile access as their preferred credential technology, though often in parallel with state-of-the-art smart cards, but still rely on aging legacy and less secure technologies while making the transition. In addition to the current access control system improvements that mobile brings, the top driver to upgrade physical access control was pandemic response.

Industry Trends in 2021

Access control systems impact everyone in an organization: security professionals, employees, contractors, and visitors. These large systems tend to be static year over year, with changes weighed against business needs and risk profiles. This year saw organizations employing new technology to make physical access administration easier with digital processes, take advantage of features made possible by new technologies, and deploy touchless solutions in response to the pandemic.

“Many of these older technologies—like 125 kHz and magnetic stripe—can be cloned quickly and with minimal technical knowledge,” said Luc Merredew, HID Global regional marketing director. “Companies can’t make the switch to new security technologies overnight, but neither can they afford to rely for too long on aging, vulnerable technology while planning a transition.”

Key Trends and Insights

  • Industry responds to the new normal. Security professionals report overall pandemic response, including touchless solutions, as the key driver to upgrading physical access systems.
  • Investing in mobile. Over half of the companies surveyed are in the process of upgrading to mobile access or have plans to deploy mobile access in the near future. This follows last year’s trend predicting mobile as the single most impactful technology-shaping access control.
  • Relying on aging technology in the short-term. While companies are marching toward mobile, they are relying on aged access control infrastructure along the way. Most companies still leverage solutions that have vulnerabilities, are inefficient to manage, or don’t integrate with other technology.
  • Recognizing opportunities. Security professionals have new opportunities to demonstrate how upgrading access control infrastructure to respond to threats nets positive ROI while improving security, user convenience, and organizational efficiency.

Download the full report and learn more about the current trends in physical access control.

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