125 kHz: Radio waves operating at 125 thousand cycles per second. This technology has historically been the standard in proximity card/reader technology beginning to be replaced by faster, more secure 13.56 MHz technology.
13.56 MHz: Radio waves operating at 13.56 million cycles per second allowing a card and reader read/write and secure, encrypted communication. Because of the faster (compared to 125 kHz proximity technology) communication between a card and reader, it makes this technology better suited for biometrics and secure, authenticated transactions.
Anticollision: The process built into an RFID System that allows a single card to be selected amongst multiple cards within a reader’s field.
Application Field: Areas in a smart card like pages housing different uses or applications (such as access control, cashless vending, public transportation, etc.) and protected by security keys.
ASK: Amplitude Shift Keying – A communication protocol that encodes binary data (0’s and 1’s) by altering the amplitude of a radio wave. ASK is used in both ISO 14443 and ISO 15693 specifications for reader to card communication.
Badge ID: The unique identifier for each card/credential within an access control system – similar to a license plate number.
Biometrics: The biological identification of a person, which includes characteristics of structure and of action such as iris and retinal patterns, hand geometry, fingerprints, voice responses to challenges and the dynamics of hand-written signatures. Biometrics are a more secure form of authentication than using cards or typing passwords; however, some forms have relatively high failure rates. Biometric authentication is often a secondary mechanism in two-factor authentication.
Bits/Bytes: A binary system of information or data represented by the number 1 or 0. This binary system of communication, called digital communication, is how computers or microprocessors talk to each other. The smallest piece (represented by a 1 or 0) of information is called a bit. A packet or string of 8 bits = 1 byte.
CE Mark: CE Marking on a product is a manufacturer's declaration that the product complies with the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislations, in practice by many of the so-called product directives.
Contactless: A card/credential and reader system utilizing RFID technology in which the credential and reader utilize microprocessors and antennas to communicate without having to come in contact with each other. This technology is usually associated with 13.56 MHz read/write capabilities which makes this technology superior to standard 125 kHz technology in implementing security authentication, biometrics, and smart cards.
DESFire: (Also MIFARE DESFire and 3Des) A special encryption and algorithm technology chosen by the U.S. government becoming the standard as the highest level of security in access control systems. It represents an authentication system of secure communication between a contactless reader and the panel/computer.
EEPROM: Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory - A memory device that does not lose its contents when power is removed. This device can be erased and reprogrammed.
Encryption: The reversible transformation of data from the original (the plaintext) to a difficult-to-interpret format as a mechanism for protecting its confidentiality, integrity and sometimes its authenticity. Encryption uses an encryption algorithm and one or more encryption keys.
Ethernet: The most popular communication system for LANs.
F2F: Two-way communication system/protocol between the host and the reader typically used in a CASI (GE Security) access control system.
FCC Certification: U.S. certification indicating that a product passes FCC standards regarding RF signal interference.
Firmware: Embedded software contained in EPROM or flash memory. It isn't quite hardware, but at least doesn't have to be loaded from a disk like regular software. It consists of a series of instructions to the hardware of a microcontroller that result in control of the system behavior.
Format: How a card is encoded with information. A format is how a number is used and what it means. An access control panel is programmed to recognize the order of information in a bit stream, such as parity bits, badge number, and facility codes.
Frequency: The number of complete cycles of a periodic process occurring per unit time. In RFID, numbers like 125 KHz or 13.56 MHz refer to the frequency of the carrier wave of the system.
FSK: Frequency modulation – the process of altering the frequency of radio waves to signify the zeros and ones in the binary communication.
Hash Function: A function which assigns a data item distinguished by some "key" into one of a number of bins in a table. Hash functions are frequently used as part of the security layer in a contact-less system. Specifically, hash functions are useful in the key diversification process.
IP address: A series of four numbers ranging between 1 and 256 each separated by a decimal – essentially a computer street address identifying a particular computer from others during communication over the web.
ISO 14443: International standard regulating contactless, proximity technology, typically representing a read range distance up to 10 centimeters. The advantage products utilizing ISO 14443 would have over those utilizing ISO 15693 is that the transaction speed is faster which would make security and transaction speed superior for large packets of information such as biometric templates. ISO 14443 is actually divided into two sub-divisions of the standard, A & B. Without going into great detail 14443A has grown to be the leading standard for access control and transportation and 14443B for banking.
ISO 15693: International standard regulating contactless, vicinity technology, typically representing a distance of over 10 centimeters. The advantage ISO 15693 has over ISO 14443 is more convenience because of longer read ranges and less power consumption.
Keyfob: A keyfob is a unique credential serving similar purposes as a card. It can take many shapes and is often used as the fob or extension on a key chain, however, serving the same purposes as a card – access control, smart card applications, etc.
Key Diversification: The process whereby a unique key is generated from a common master key. In contact-less systems, key diversification often takes a UID and a master key as inputs. These are then processed using hash functions and sometimes encryption algorithms and the result is a key unique to a particular transponder.
Key Management: Much like the key control of masterkeyed codes in a mechanical key system, key management in an electronic system is the process of controlling badge IDs, facility codes, and ensure the secure integrity of extensions in a system to avoid distributing duplicate codes.
LANs: Local Area Networks which are typically used to connect computers separated by short distances.
MIFARE®: A proprietary contactless and dual interface smart card chip technology produced by Philips. It is well proven RF communication technology for transmitting data between a card and a reader device fully compliant with ISO 14443A.
Modulation: The variation of a property in an electromagnetic wave or signal, such as amplitude, frequency, or phase. Through modulation of carrier waves, data is encoded and transmitted in an RFID system.
Mullion: A vertical bar or divider in the frame between doors, or other openings such as the metal narrow rail between glass, storefront doors.
Multi-Technology Cards: A card or credential utilizing two or more technologies such as magnetic stripe and proximity (RF).
Multi-Technology Readers: A reader utilizing two or more technologies such as proximity (125 kHz) and contactless (13.56 MHz).
NFC: Near Field Communication – a wireless communication system developed in conjunction between Philips and Sony to compete with Bluetooth wireless communication.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer – A manufacturing company of a data control system such as an access control system that provides software to connect many devices including readers.
PKI: Public Key Infrastructure – A framework for creating a secure method for exchanging information using cryptography and a 3rd party certificate authority to authenticate individuals and organizations.
Protocol: How computers talk to each other – a communication system.
Proximity: A transponder/credential and reader system utilizing RFID technology in which the credential and reader contain digital state machines or microcontrollers, analog front ends and antennas to communicate without having to come into contact with one another. This technology is usually associated with 125 kHz readers, the historical standard RFID technology in access control.
RS232 or RS485: Standards for serial multipoint communications lines. These represent faster, two-way communication lines rather than the standard Wiegand one-way communication lines prevalent in the access control industry.
Smart Card: A card or credential that my contains a digital state machine or microcontroller used for identification and transactions in a number of applications (security, financial, etc.). The card has read/write capability to transfer data from a reader typically to a controller or computer.
TCP/IP: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol which is the most common protocol system computers use to communicate over the internet.
UID: Unique Identifier – The unique number given to a card/credential making it unique from any other card/credential – like a VIN# of a car.
UL Listed: Underwriters Laboratory". Originally an insurance industry organization, UL is now an independent and non-profit organization that tests electrical components and other equipment for potential hazards. When something is UL-listed, it means that UL has tested the device and it meets their requirements for safety - i.e.: fire or shock hazard.
WANs: Wide Area Networks connect computers separated by large distances.
Wiegand Cards: An access control card which works in principle similar to a magnetic-stripe card. A Wiegand card contains a set of embedded wires that contain data and are made of a special alloy with magnetic properties that are extremely difficult to duplicate.
Wiegand Format: The most common data format in an access control system consisting of 26 bits of information (also see format definition).