Confused by electronic access control systems? That’s standard.

May 22, 2021

Last year, Standards Australia finalised the adoption of the IEC series of standards for access control systems, which in Australia will now be known as ‘AS/NZS IEC 60839 11:2019 Electronic access control systems – application guidelines.’

Now, if you made it to the end of that last sentence without immediately unsubscribing from this newsletter for being such a complete waste of your attention then congratulations, because I too almost fell asleep writing it… So why are we telling you about an industry standard for an access control system? Well, to be quite honest, it’s because we’re excited about it!

It means that in the security industry there is now a set of minimal accepted requirements for the planning, installation, and maintenance of an access control system (a benchmark that we hope to exceed). Up until now, there’s not been much in the way of industry guidelines for what is for most businesses’, a critical component to their security.

But what does this mean for you as a security consumer, should you care that there’s a new industry standard, or should you just update your inbox SPAM filter so that you never have to hear about something so insipid ever again? Well, to be frank no, you probably have a few more important things in your life to worry about than standards for an industry you’re not likely to be directly involved in. However, if you’re responsible for ensuring the security of a building then there are a few salient things to know, which we’ll kindly dissect for you here (see, there was a good reason for reading on):


What type or level of access control system should be installed for your facility? There’s a plethora to choose from, but now thanks to these standards you can implement a system based on a risk assessment, which in turn gives you a security grading and a minimal set of requirements to follow. The risk assessment is based on the value of the assets you’re trying to protect and the potential methods of attack you can expect from adversaries, and a suitable grading is then given:

GRADE 1 – LOW RISK. When the assets you’re trying to protect are low value and your potential adversary is expected to have little knowledge and a limited range of tools at their disposal for compromising a security system, and they’ll likely give up when confronted with minimal resistance.

For example: a hotel, convenience store

GRADE 2 – LOW TO MEDIUM RISK. When the assets you’re protecting have a higher value, your adversary has limited knowledge but does have access to some general tools for compromising security systems. They’ll also likely give up when they realise they may have been detected.

For example: commercial offices, small businesses

GRADE 3 – MEDIUM TO HIGH RISK. You have some high value assets to protect, and your adversaries can be expected to be conversant with access control systems and have use of a range of portable instruments designed to break through security systems. They might only give up when they realise they may have been identified and caught.

For example: industrial, administration and financial institutions

GRADE 4 – HIGH RISK. The assets you’re trying to protect are of very high value and your adversary has the ability and resources to plan the attack in minute detail and they may only give up when they realise they will be identified and caught.

For example: highly sensitive areas, military, and government facilities

Now, armed with the knowledge of the grade of access control system that will be appropriate for the value of the assets you’re protecting, and the level of threat you face, there will be a clear set of guidelines on what type, and to what degree, of access control system you implement.

There will be a standard, for example, on the minimum number of digits you use with PIN codes; whether the doors need to be monitored in case they are forced or left open for too long; what sort of back-up should be included in the event of a power failure; should you restrict a user re-entering an area if the system hasn’t detected them leaving if first (to stop people passing their credentials onto someone else to gain access). All these decisions can be clearly answered for you in accordance with your security grading.

But really, do you actually need to know any of this? Maybe not, but what you do need to know is that when it comes to implementing an access control system for your business, there’s no one-size-fits all solution. But there is a standard and a guideline for helping choose the right system: it’s called the ‘AS/NZS IEC 60839 11:2019 Electronic access control systems – application guidelines 😊

If you’re looking for some expert advice on how to better secure your facility with an electronic access control system, give us at Red Flag Systems a call on 1300 685 504.

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