Bluetooth Solutions for Wireless Credential Management and Audit Trail

December 2, 2016 Rachel Kane

Southco’s BT Bluetooth Lock Controller provides remote access control and monitoring of intelligent locks without having to physically connect to a network, or install, manage and maintain software.

Steve Spatig, General Manager, Electronic Access Solutions, Southco, Inc.

With data protection regulations calling for stricter physical security requirements at the rack level, data center managers are seeking solutions for simplified access control and credential management, outside of traditional lock-and-key solutions. In many cases, complicated networked security installation and IT support become considerable road blocks to implementation.

While electronic locking solutions are the ideal choice for enhancing rack level security, data center managers face increased wiring, installation and IT support costs when integrating these solutions with their existing networks. As data centers expand to accommodate future data storage needs, these challenges will continue to multiply. However, there are scalable solutions available that provide complete, remote access control at the rack level, without a wired network connection or software to buy, install and manage.

Wireless Access Control and Audit Trail Reporting
Wireless solutions based on Bluetooth communication offer a simplified solution for physically securing data center cabinets and equipment. The controller is simply wired to a power source and to the electronic lock without the need for other discreet components, allowing for remote access without the need for costly, complex network connections.

There are two options for providing access to equipment with Bluetooth lock controllers: by using a smartphone directly, or with existing RFID access credentials.

Smartphone Access

A Bluetooth enabled smartphone can be used as a “key” to access the equipment. Time based virtual keys can be sent wirelessly to a smartphone application via a cloud based web portal. To access the server cabinet, the individual need only approach it and touch the access button on their installed app, which transmits the encrypted Bluetooth signal to the controller, unlocking the door and sending a record of the access via the smartphone app to the cloud.

The Bluetooth device (in this example, a smartphone) does not require a wireless network to open the lock. The smartphone simply communicates via Bluetooth, with the lock controller. Each time access occurs, a digital audit trail is generated and sent using a wireless network connection to the remote web portal, via the cloud.

RFID Access

Bluetooth controllers may also accept input from traditional Weigand based RFID readers accessed from a web portal. Users can access the equipment using traditional RFID cards; the Bluetooth device is then used to upload and download credential information and download audit trail data wirelessly. The audit trail is pushed from the Bluetooth controller to a wireless device and up to the cloud, where it can then be accessed by the data center’s central office. Administrators can assign and revoke RFID cards using the same cloud based web portal.

Bluetooth Lock Controllers accept input from smartphones, as well as traditional Weigand based RFID readers, like Southco’s H3-EM Electronic Locking Swinghandle with Prox Reader.

RFID and smartphone access can also be used together to access the same piece of equipment. In situations where not everyone has a smartphone, the users can access the equipment with either an RFID credential or a Bluetooth enabled smartphone. To obtain the audit trail when using RFID credentials, a Bluetooth wireless device connected to Wi-Fi would be used as the vehicle for exchanging access control data between the controller to the cloud. The remote monitoring and enrollment of credentials can then be managed via the web portal, with any changes being pushed back to the smartphone via the cloud. The smartphone then transmits this data wirelessly to the lock controller.

Scalable Access Control
As data centers continue to expand to accommodate storage growth, the implementation of new physical security solutions at the rack level can require an increasing level of set up time and support costs. Typically, installation of electronic access systems involves hardwiring each incremental access point into the building’s physical access control (PAC) panel. Bluetooth wireless, cloud based solutions offer a simplified, scalable means of adding additional access points with minimal installation and set-up.

The flexibility provided by Bluetooth controllers allows the data center manager to grant access to personnel from anywhere without having to physically be on site at the data center when access to equipment is necessary. Once virtual keys have been delivered to a smartphone or added to existing credentials, WIFI access is not required for communication between the Bluetooth enabled phone or RFID card, and the lock controller.

Conclusion
Bluetooth access controllers that have been integrated with intelligent electronic locks provide significant benefits for physical security management, providing simplified credential management and audit trail monitoring without having to wire into a network. By adding Bluetooth controlled electronic locks to server cabinets, data center managers can control access, protect valuable data and ensure compliance with data protection regulations. Bluetooth offers a convenient and unprecedented means of managing user access that is scalable to the needs of any data center facility.

 

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