Open standards drive access control improvements

Written by  Dave Adams Tuesday, 27 November 2012 14:47

The access control industry’s move to open standards is cultivating a broad range of interoperable products with enhanced features and security.  Open standards also ensure that solutions can be easily upgraded to support changes in technology and applications, and give users the confidence that investments in today’s technologies can be leveraged in the future.

One recently established standard that delivers significant user benefits is the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) with Secure Channel Protocol (SCP). The specification provides bi-directional communications and security features for connecting card readers to control panels or other security management systems, which improves integration to support advanced applications and data encryption between components.  Bi-directional communication is particularly beneficial, enabling users to change configurations and to poll and query readers from a central system, which reduces costs while speeding and simplifying configuration and improving the ability to service readers.
 
Unlike earlier uni-directional protocols including the Wiegand interface for RFID readers and the clock-and-data signal approach used with magnetic stripe readers, OSDP enables continuous reader status monitoring, and can immediately indicate a failed, missing or malfunctioning reader.  It can also provide tamper detection and indication capabilities.  All signaling is performed over two data lines plus ground, which cuts costs as compared to Wiegand by enabling the use of four conductor cables to power the reader and to send and receive data, rather than six.
 
In announcing the OSDP project in November 2011, SIA Standards chairman Steve Van Till said, “We think that there is a glaring need for this type of specification… There is currently no standard protocol for interfacing readers to physical access control systems, other than the outdated Wiegand protocol, which does not support advanced operations such as those required for public key infrastructure (PKI).”

According to SIA, it expects OSDP with SCP to replace the Wiegand interface in many applications that require larger data sizes, two-way communications, or encryption, such as smart card deployments, federal PKI-based systems, and identity management applications.
 
The addition of SCP to OSDP has brought strong authentication capabilities that enable secure and trusted communications and connections.  With many years of proven use, SCP was developed by GlobalPlatform, an industry standards body that works across industries to identify, develop and publish specifications that facilitate the secure and interoperable deployment and management of multiple embedded applications on secure chip technology.   To establish a session using SCP, the client and server are mutually authenticated with each other and a set of keys are established for the session.  The secure channel is then terminated and session keys destroyed whenever any error is detected in the SCP.
 
HID Global has made significant contributions to the OSDP specification, and is one of the first to support OSDP with SCP in its reader portfolio as part of its recently expanded iCLASS SE platform. 
 
OSDP with SCP and other industry standards will continue to play an increasingly important role in the PACS industry, delivering improved security and new capabilities while ensuring that users can future-proof their infrastructure investments with highly adaptable solutions that can grow and evolve.

Dave Adams is senior director of product marketing at HID Global.

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