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Open Source Access Control Systems

 

Open source systems provide unmatched flexibility in comparison to commercial proprietary solutions from a single manufacturer.

What are open source access control systems?

Open source access control systems are composed of individual components from a variety of manufacturers. With open source access control, the components are not restricted to a single manufacturer, rather each piece of the system can be selected individually. For example, the software and underlying management interface for your access control system can be from one manufacturer, while you select specific door switches, electronic door locks, card readers, and credentials that are independent. 

When it comes to open source access control systems, the user’s individual needs are the top priority. This is actualized by allowing system administrators to choose from any compatible access control hardware from various manufacturers. Then, the access control system administrator can modify the system with integration using advanced technology products without permanently committing to a single propreitary platform. 

The ability to select individual components provides increased flexibility and custom-tailored solutions to match your business’s security needs. Umbrella Technologies specializes in creating access control systems that meet the specific needs of its customers. If you are planning an access control system, contact us for a free consultation at 630-270-3313.

Open source systems vs. closed proprietary systems

There are benefits for both open source systems and closed proprietary access control systems. Open source systems are often less expensive compared to proprietary systems; because communities rather than a single company developing all aspects of the system, you can build your own system using only the elements that you need. Proprietary systems only work when the manufacturer owns the entire intellectual property of the software and required hardware. Proprietary access control companies typically do not share their Application Programming Interface (API) with other organizations and purposefully make it difficult to integrate their products with other manufacturers’ products. Proprietary software also comes with a dedicated team of professional developers writing the code and maintaining software based on the manufacturer’s principles.

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Benefits of Open Source Access Control Systems

Open source systems provide a range of benefits to access control system integrators, communities, operators, and suppliers. Here are some of the benefits:

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Lower Cost

Open source systems are customizable to any budget. This results in lower initial investment and lower cost of upgrades for your security system. Upgrades are easier and less expensive with open source systems because new technology change doesn’t scrap the previous investment in the system.

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No vendor lock-in

The user can take the individual components to any vendor to find a solution that meets their needs. Open source communities can help provide resources instead of just depending on a single company for solutions and support.

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Integration

Open source access control software can integrate with secured products from multiple vendors on the market with related product services that are not covered by a single system. (Ex: biometric scanning or facial recognition software for access control systems)

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Ease of Installation

Open source systems can be paired with pre-existing access control components such as card readers, electronic locks and might require minimal cabling to upgrade an open source system.

What is open source software?

The term ‘open source software’ refers to software in which the original source code is made freely available with a license, and the user can make changes or modify according to their needs.

Open source was tagged as “free software” for a long time. Richard Stallman established the free software movement in 1983 through the GNU Project. In 1998, a group of people renamed the term “free software” with “open-source software (OSS).” 

Similar to open source access control systems, open source software is non-proprietary and works with a concept of ‘Your choice.’ Your choice software often relies on peer review and community production to maximize open source systems’ communal benefit. Open source systems are a decentralized production model that provides innovative ways to solve problems within communities or industries.

Businesses can use open source software when the required access control hardware follows industry standards, and the Application Programming Interfaces (API) is available for collaboration and integration with their products.

Benefits of open source software

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Secure and Stable

The software code is open at the backend of the system, allowing anyone to figure out and fix the defects overlooked by the software’s original creator. This property helps to keep the system up-to-date and error-free.

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Peer Review

The original source code in the open source software is freely accessible by communities or industry individuals. These peer programmers thoroughly review the code, reducing existing bugs in the software missed by the originator. Communities actively check open source code. Additionally, peer review ensures the code is adequately tested. When an IP based open source hardware is used for proximity card readers and access panels, the most secure hardware can be merged with advanced cutting-edge software instead of depending on a single provider.

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Secure and Stable

The software code is open at the backend of the system, allowing anyone to figure out and fix the defects overlooked by the software’s original creator. This property helps to keep the system up-to-date and error-free.

Open Source Software’s Biggest Weakness

The biggest concern about open source systems is caused by the basic premise of open source – openness. All users see the same code used in open source systems of the software, which means there is an obvious vulnerability for its use in access control systems. This lack of central control from a single proprietary access control manufacturer provides hackers the opportunity to find gaps and vulnerabilities in the open source access control software. 

In many cases, this weakness and vulnerability make open source software no longer an option for access control administrators.

Additional Risks of Open Source Access Control

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Privacy

Open Source software can create legal risk and are vulnerable to cyber-attacks/hackers. To overcome these issues, privacy policies should be written clearly. One must encrypt the personal data, analyze the data before processing, test and evaluate the effectiveness of technical or organizational measures for increased security and regular check on patches or maintenance.

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License Compliance Risks

Open source access control has license restrictions associated with it. When using the system, the company or user agrees to terms and conditions set by the originator. Therefore, businesses must keep track of open source licenses.

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Software Quality Risks

Quality assurance of an open source system must be verified to keep the product stable and consistent. The quality of an open source system is measured based on many factors. Some of them are:

  1. Number of commits made as an indicator of the level of activity.
  2. Number of bugs fixed in each specific time.
  3. The amount and severity of open defects each session.
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Operational Risks

Open source software can face operational inefficiencies. To avoid this issue, the system should be updated with the most recent compatible version. The whole organization should stop using the old version and update the new version to avoid different teams using legacy versions.

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Developer Malpractices

When working with open source software it is difficult to identify or track if a code snippet is added to your codebase, making your applications open to potential future vulnerabilities. 

It is at this point that companies must decide if the benefits of open source software make sense for their access control systems. Is your company willing to acknowledge and accept the security risks of using open source software that can be viewed by the same people you are looking to keep out of your facility?

Umbrella Technologies has the expert knowledge and experience that will help you to choose the best access control system suitable for your business.

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