The technical physical security controls used to administer physical access include smart cards, dumb cards, proximity readers, and biometrics. Others include audit trails, access logs, and intrusion detection systems (IDSs).

Smart cards are similar to credit cards in appearance and contain an embedded magnetic strip, bar code, or integrated circuit chip. They can contain machine-readable ID information about the authorized user for verification purposes.

A dumb card is an ID card that usually has a photo and printed details about the authorized user. Dumb cards are used in environments where security guards are posted.

A proximity reader can be a passive device, a field-powered device, or a transponder. The proximity device is worn or held by the authorized user. When they approach a proximity reader, it’s able to pinpoint the user then determine whether they have authorized access. A passive device reflects or otherwise alters the electromagnetic field generated by the reader. This alteration is picked up by the reader. A field-powered device has electronics that are triggered upon entering the electromagnetic field generated by the reader. A transponder device is self-powered and sends out a signal received by the reader.

Intrusion detection systems monitor physical activity and are programmed to detect attempted entry, breach, or attack by an unauthorized user. These systems may include security guards, automated access controls, and motion detectors, as well as burglar alarms. Physical intrusion detection systems can scan for vibrations, movement, temperature changes, sound, changes in electromagnetic fields, etc.

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