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Tackling physical security threats in the laboratory environment

Laboratories, by the nature of the activities they undertake, can face various security threats and be the target for unwanted attention from various groups. The range of threats faced, for instance, physical attacks, theft of intellectual property, and unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information will be based upon the laboratory functions and assets.

However, doors allow easy unauthorized access through tailgating and increasingly a form of turnstile is being utilized, particularly where a high footfall is likely to occur, such as on main staff entrances. Whatever portal chosen, the locking device should be compatible and maybe an electromagnetic lock, electric strike/deadbolt, etc.

To counter the threats faced, laboratories will require robust security management arrangements, including effective access management to control who can go where and when within the laboratory facilities. 

An effective entry management system must be supported by an automated access control system with several key components.

  1. The credential that enables access (access card, personal identity number (PIN), biometric attribute).
  2. The reading device (card reader, keypad, or biometric scanner).
  3. The portal and locking hardware (such as a door or turnstile).
  4. The controller that enables the operation of the system to defined rules.
  5. The database that holds user information (such as authorization profile).

The grading of the access control system entry points will significantly influence the necessary components required. For example, if the security level is deemed to be at medium to high risk, this requires an online system using two-factor authentication or single-factor biometric with events being received “real-time on the monitoring software”.

A credential (i.e. means of authentication) is “a physical or tangible object, piece of knowledge or a facet of a person’s physical being that enables an individual to gain access to a controlled area”. More succinctly, this is:

  • something we know such as a PIN
  • something we have such as a token or card
  • something we are such as a biometric measure


In a laboratory environment, the credential(s) would need to be used with a reading device that requires, for example, both use of a card (e.g. swipe or proximity) and PIN being entered into the reading device in a system of certain security level, for instance, Grade 1 is for standard level of security while Grade 3 is of high-security level. Similarly, if doors are the preferred portal, the grade will influence the type of door material to be used, such as, with Grade 3 requiring solid hardwood.

Another factor to consider is the issue regarding visitors and the use of temporary access approval. Biometrics authentication helps when staff and temporary visitors needed to be separated into two user groups with assigned permission time for entry to the facilities.


ScanViS Team

ScanViS Team

We are a young and dynamic team consisting of specialists from product development (hardware and software), R&D, technical support, sales and marketing. Working together, we strive for continuous improvement and success on developing and providing state-of-the-art, cost-effective facial recognition solutions for different applications and market segments.