Fraud and theft are constant threats to any organization, and the protections put in place against malicious activities must constantly evolve. To solve this challenge, businesses are deploying multiple levels of security, of which access ID cards are a critical component. Innovative, print-on-demand (POD) solutions enable a new generation of “intelligent” access cards that contain various technologies such as barcode, magnetic stripe, smart card contact and contactless, and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies. Additional security can be applied to ID cards through tamper-resistant overlaminates and/or preprinted ID cards with security features.
This white paper defines how human resources and security departments can print intelligent ID cards to identify employees, visitors and patrons, and manage access to facilities, equipment and services through a range of “intelligent” access ID card technologies.
Business Security Risks Are Escalating
Whether the requirement is to control entrance to facilities, or specific areas within a building, businesses must find a way to limit who gains access to what, when and where. Locking down security is essential for reducing theft, ensuring compliance to safety regulations, and protecting employees.
Consider the following troubling facts:
• The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that employee theft is the fastest growing crime in America.
• Employee theft is responsible for 30 percent of all business failures according to U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates.
• A National Retail Federation (NRF) study found inventory shrinkage cost retailers 1.75 percent of annual sales, with losses from internal employee theft far exceeding losses from shoplifters.
• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculated that counterfeiting and piracy costs are directly responsible for more than 750,000 U.S. job losses, cost the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 million annually, and cost the global economy $650 billion.
• The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2007, workers suffered over 17,500 chemical- related injuries and illnesses related to chemical exposure, many of which were due to unauthorized employee access to hazardous areas.
Automated access control ID card systems can significantly reduce the damages from these crimes. The best security is proactive, not reactive. By integrating access control into human resources, facilities and security departments, organizations can deter fraud and theft by making themselves unattractive targets for dishonest employees and opportunistic criminals. Access and identification systems are highly effective and visible deterrents that protect against many types of security threats. Businesses can use multi-layered identification and tracking systems to protect people, facilities, fixed assets, products and information.
Access Security Applications of Intelligent Access Cards
Many organizations use employee ID cards and access control systems to prevent unauthorized people from walking through their front doors. Unfortunately, most organizations suffer more losses from their own employees than they do from outsiders. With no way to associate an employee with a product, retail employees now steal 50 percent more merchandise than shoplifters, according to the NRF.
Businesses face even greater threats from white-collar crimes. Pilfered office supplies and unauthorized use of photocopiers, scanners, digital ID cameras, color printers and other equipment may seem innocent, but these acts burden employers with higher service and operating costs and untold lost productivity. Organizations should carefully consider their access policies and protections. ID cards with barcodes, magnetic stripes, or RFID provide seamless integration with ID card readers and building infrastructure to control access to supplies, computer rooms, copy centers and equipment.
Most losses do not occur from overt break-ins or elaborate employee fraud schemes, but from simple crimes of opportunity. Limiting access to facilities, equipment and supplies can prevent a significant amount of unauthorized activity. For example, the Renaissance Tower, a 56-floor office complex in Dallas, installed an RFID ID card printing system that not only permits employees to enter the building, but also controls access to specific floors with ID card readers on the elevators and stairways. After the ID cards replaced the honor system, the Renaissance Tower’s director of security reported a significant decrease in thefts and an 80 percent improvement in operations.
Companies can also extend their protection by issuing ID badges to visitors, temporary workers, service and delivery personnel and contractors. With POD Zebra ID card printing solutions, employees at reception desks, receiving docks, or guard stations can create professional-looking visitor passes on the spot.
Employee Tracking for Improved Safety
Area tracking coverage can save valuable time and lives in emergencies and is a key enabler for emerging personnel-tracking applications. For several years, businesses have used expensive, battery operated RFID tags to track workers in dangerous environments such as mines or areas where exposure to chemicals, gases, or radioactivity requires monitoring. The development of low-cost, standardized Gen 2 UHF technology makes it practical to extend wireless area access ID card monitoring across many diverse environments.
Businesses can install Gen 2 ID card readers outdoors or indoors, and use them in many ways to manage workers in hazardous and disaster environments. For situations where workplace regulations limit the amount of time workers can spend in an environment, businesses can install readers to cover the area and automatically record all entries and exits. Access control system software can track the amount of time each individual worker spends in the area, calculate real-time cumulative totals, and automatically generate alerts as workers near their time thresholds.
Using RFID-enabled access cards completely automates the data entry and calculation processes and quickly generates and stores necessary records. A network of ID card readers covering rooms, labs, test facilities, tunnels, mineshafts and other areas can produce a real-time view of employee locations, information that is invaluable in case of emergency. The same access card principles also apply to non-hazardous environments where security departments require accurate, real-time information about where people are in a building or campus.
The Intelligence of Embedded UHF Technology
Today’s RFID technology enables ID card readers to detect and scan RFID-embedded ID cards up to 10 meters away for secure tracking and access control. EPCglobal developed the Gen 2 UHF standard so users could accurately identify multiple items simultaneously at distances not possible with legacy RFID technology. While Gen 2 is widely used for asset management and product identification applications, it is now gaining widespread use as a contactless access control solution to track people.
The read range of Gen 2 and fast identification capabilities deliver key benefits for access card applications. Magnetic stripe, barcode and even smart cards require swiping or line of sight scanning through a reader. Deploying Gen 2-enabled access technology eliminates the need for single-file, one-at-a-time card reads. Groups of people can move through large, open entry and exit points, rather than having to pass through narrow doorways, gates, or turnstiles. Security departments can track employees and visitors throughout a facility, and know exactly who is where and how long they remain in a location. In addition, security provisions in the Gen 2 standard include multiple levels of data protection and device authentication to prevent unauthorized reads.
Globally, RFID technology is rapidly gaining momentum for use in personnel identification. At the federal level, the U.S. government’s PASS Card program uses Gen 2 RFID to replace traditional passports to improve the security and convenience of border crossings. At the state level, Arizona, New York, Washington and Vermont are deploying RFID enabled, enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL) by the millions.
Identification Printing Technologies
All the access ID card technologies described in this paper including barcode, RFID, magnetic stripe, smart card, graphics and photo security features can be printed on demand at the user’s own facility—wherever and whenever. Switching from preprinted access cards, temporary IDs, and passes to on-demand ID card printing systems provides an immediate benefit by removing the worries related to managing and securing costly materials.
A barcode is the most widely used data storage format for security printing applications, and RFID is the fastest growing. Common linear barcodes easily meet most needs for encoding employee and visitor ID cards. Two-dimensional (2-D) barcodes can encode significantly more text than linear codes and store digitized photos, graphics, fingerprint files, and other biometric data. ID card printing solutions provide multiple encoding and security technologies, including holograms and magnetic stripes.
ID Card Printers
Digital plastic ID card printers offer the ability to create custom ID cards tailored to the application, at the point of issuance. System administrators can invalidate lost or stolen ID cards and issue replacements immediately. Unlike traditional ID card systems that lacked customization, which required time consuming photo processing, cutting and laminating, today’s digital POD ID card systems enable completely automated production of highly customized, secure ID cards. A wide variety of ID card printers exist to meet user needs, including high duty cycle models for applications that require printing thousands of ID cards annually and retransfer printing technology for ID card applications with the highest standards.
Digitally printed plastic blank ID cards provide numerous technological features, but start with a blank plastic ID card customizable with any combination of artwork, graphics, text, digital photographs, barcodes, logos and more. The ID card printer can encode additional machine-readable information, such as magnetic stripes, RFID, and smart card chips. The image quality of plastic photo ID cards produced with digital printing technology is far superior and tamper-resistant compared to those produced through the old method of trimming printed photos and laminating them onto the ID card. Different ID card materials and overlaminates provide additional protection from attempts to tamper with and create fake ID cards.
Magnetic stripe ID cards carry more data than standard barcodes, but require media that costs more. Card issuers stock blank magnetic stripe ID cards and encode them on demand. Smart cards enabled with a smart chip can hold the most data of any medium, up to 100 times more than a magnetic stripe card, and often include a processor chip that enables multiple applications. Security departments can use intelligent ID cards to securely store employee access records and facility privileges for later use.
Access ID Card Security Features
Adding tamper-resistance and visual verification aids to prevent counterfeiting and unauthorized alterations improves access control security to facilities. Today’s on-demand ID card printers can print variable text, and create vibrant ID photos for visual ID confirmation. For higher ID card security and durability, forensic features can be preprinted directly to the ID card, or added to the ID card through the application of ID card overlaminates.
There are numerous forensic security features that fall into the following categories:
• Overt visual security elements (holographic foil, complex patterns, and photos), which are visible to the human eye, are easy to authenticate and very difficult to forge.
• Covert elements (micro-text and hidden imagery) require a device to make them readable by the human eye.
• Forensic elements are microscopic (nano-text) and the most difficult for a counterfeiter to detect and replicate.
Such features are critical when security mandates call for a mix of remote employee traceability coupled with a need to verify that the access ID card belongs to the intended person. Tamper resistance makes it much more difficult for criminals and dishonest employees to counterfeit or duplicate fake ID cards. This is a critical requirement for businesses in a wide range of industries including the financial sector, Department of Defense (DoD) contractors and other security-sensitive enterprises.
Intelligent access ID card technologies offer several easy and cost-effective ways for organizations to raise the level of protection for their people, products, and property. Raising the bar on security prevents many problems by forcing opportunistic perpetrators to seek easier targets. Today’s contactless access ID card technologies provide superior range and read performance so that organizations can:
• Relieve congestion or enable identification where it isn’t practical to install a short-range reader
• Conveniently support a second form of identity validation, such as facial recognition
• Provide high-throughput entry/exit for convenience and crowd control
• Automatically monitor specific zones and areas
• Associate people with assets
Zebra Technologies delivers innovative POD access and ID card printers that integrate a wide range of intelligent access ID card technologies and security features. The ID cards, ID card printers and encoders support all EPCglobal, ISO and other applicable standards. With Zebra, businesses can feel more secure that their facilities, employees, and assets remain protected today and tomorrow.