Read the latest news and blogs surrounding access control, time and attendance systems and integrated security solutions with Tensor plc.

Contact Less Smart Card Orders case study image

Contact Less Smart Card Orders

Smart cards became available during the 1960s following demands from users frustrated by swipe card technology. This new form of identification offered intolerance to moisture, could be read by a smart card reader no matter what the orientation, and was infinitely more secure than any other device on the market. In the last few weeks alone, orders for well over $100 million of contact less (ie RFID) smart cards and associated systems have been placed. The business is surging forward with the percentage of smart cards that are contact less rising to 16% of deliveries in 2007 after having been stuck at around 5% for the preceding twenty years. One can even foresee the day when those buying smart cards with contacts will be asked to explain themselves. So, the question has to be asked… why use it? The lame reply about having the old infrastructure and not being able to afford the contact less one is the nearest to a valid excuse. A high proportion of new purchasers now seek the lower cost of ownership and the user friendliness of contact less cards and the orders are flooding in. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority A case in point involves the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, who have awarded a $11.58 million contract modification to Cubic Transportation Systems Inc to implement software and technology upgrades merging the Metropolitan Area rail, park-and-ride and regional bus systems through a common smart card and a centralized transaction processing and reporting back-office system. Enhancements will include new contact less card readers at all Metro subway and parking facilities, expanding the SmarTrip regional smart card system. The upgrades will increase efficiency and save the agency millions of dollars in annual operating costs. Credit, Debit, Account and Store Cards The success of contact less card payments in the USA in 2006 was been such that Visa described its Visa Contactless product as “one of the most rapidly adopted payment innovations in Visa history”. Since contact less bank card payments were first introduced in earnest in 2004, over 13 million MasterCard, Visa and American Express-branded cards have been issued, and can be accepted at over 30,000 US merchant locations. Tensor Smart Cards Tensor Time Systems Inc have long advocated the use of smart card technology within time and attendance and access control systems. With a read range that is unaffected by most external conditions, we have found that the Tensor range of smart card scanners can successfully operate within even the most exposed environment. If you’re looking to implement smart card technology within your organisation, you may wish to consider a system from Tensor – the leading provider of smart card security systems in the US.

Biometrics Benefits Business case study image

Biometrics Benefits Business

Fingerprints help business prevent data loss and theft because of how difficult they are to duplicate. Protecting an organisation’s sensitive data in the event a laptop is lost or stolen is invaluable, but implementing biometric authentication can lead to other, less obvious benefits. Biometric implementation can help firms comply with a litany of government regulations for data security and can help to combat the hackers’ exploitation of password weaknesses. Preliminary findings suggest employees prefer using their fingerprints to authenticate to their machines over other methods. Passwords can be difficult to remember and tokens are easily lost. Furthermore, most corporations have seen that acceptance by users can either make or break the adoption of new technology. Today, businesses are using biometric technology in a variety of ways. When a fingerprint is required up front before the operating system loads, this is called "pre-boot authentication". Proper authentication before booting the operating system or accessing the hard drive is one of the strongest ways to pretect data if a laptop is lost or stolen. Using biometrics for pre-boot authentication adds security, but keeps the process easy and convenient. Fingerprints can also be combined with passwords and used as two-factor authentication when accessing Windowsâ„¢ a VPN or the corporate network. Another common business application is to require fingerprint authentication, in order to access sensitive documents or to log into secure applications. With respect to administration, fingerprint authentication systems have made huge headway in recent years and are easy to deploy and maintain. Passwords and their hassles may even be eliminated entirely when the biometric validation is done at a central server. A server-based biometric implementation benefits network administrators by allowing them to enroll a user’s fingerprints at a remote station. When fingerprint enrollment is done at a central location and the fingerprints are automatically distributed to the user’s account across the network, the system administrator can verify the user’s identity when he or she enrolls his or her fingerprint. In this scenario, users are also free to "roam" or, in other words, to log into different computers, all with a single fingerprint enrollment. To alleviate the fears that users may get "locked out" of their computers, administrators are able to specify a backup method of authentication in case of sensor failure, which is uncommon. Compared to other authentication methods that require complex administration systems, external tokens or expensive hardware, biometrics is emerging as one of the more cost-effective technologies in terms of both deployment and administration.

ID Badge Printing Methods case study image

ID Badge Printing Methods

ID badges produced for visitor monitoring or access control applications invariably use the same card production process. There are a number of different production methods, which produce varying degrees of security integration. The least expensive badge printing method is also the least secure. Printers using an inkjet printing engine are designed to accept blank cards with a surface that will accept ink. Not only are these printers less expensive initially, the ink cartridges are relatively inexpensive compared to more advanced printing media. Security weaknesses include a lack of built-in lamination and print definition quality needed for higher security applications. Most ID badge printing software incorporates both inkjet and dye sublimation printing options allowing you to choose which output suits your needs. The most popular method of card production utilises the most popular printing method found today: Direct-To-Card (DTC) printers. These printers use a dye-sublimation process where the print head transfers colors from a special ribbon directly to the ID card. Advanced models of DTC printers can also be equipped to apply either a standard lamination layer or a high-security overlaminate containing at least one visual security element. Various ribbons are available for DTC printers based on the ID badge design and security needs of the end user. Full-color ribbons blend up to 16.7 million colors to produce photo-quality images. Full-color ribbons are also available with a special fluorescing panel to produce a covert visual security element viewable only under ultraviolet light. When producing barcodes encoded with cardholder-specific data, one of two types of black may be used. The standard black produced by dye-sublimation ribbons produces a barcode that can only be read by a visible-light reader. Black resin ribbons produce a barcode readable by infrared-light readers. This provides a higher level of security since the more sophisticated infrared-based reader will reject a copied barcode. The most expensive and most secure method of ID card production uses a high-definition printer. This type of card printer actually first prints an extremely high-quality image onto a special film, then the film is transferred by a heat and pressure process to the ID card.

Biometric Popularity Increase case study image

Biometric Popularity Increase

The UK population is now welcoming the use of biometrics, according to a recent survey conducted throughout homes and businesses across the UK. The study shows that 76% of respondents are more in favour of biometrics than they were one year ago. The radical opinion change is due to perceived personal safety reasons; three quarters of survey respondents viewed biometric security devices as vital in combatting terrorism. While the majority appears keen on the introduction of biometrics in airports, less than half of the respondents approved of the technology’s usage in the UK’s underground tube networks. Banking and retail sectors were seen as low priority areas for the technology, with 59% and 63% of respondents rejecting the use of biometrics in these areas, respectively. In addition to the uncertainty surrounding its daily usage, the survey identified further concerns about how biometric technology will come into practice. Over half of the respondents (58%) weren’t aware that they could be subjected to biometric checks when traveling abroad. However, 63% claim to be aware of the pending introduction of new international standards that will mandate the logging of face and optionally, fingerprint data on passports. Civil liberty infringements are another issue mentioned by almost a third of respondents, who were against the creation of a government biometric database, even if it lead to better crime detection rates. Even though most Brits don’t actually understand what biometrics are, 76% of people in the UK are now more in favour of them than a year ago, but more than half (58%) of respondents did not know if they had been subject to biometric checks when travelling abroad. Increased personal safety was named as the biggest driver for the shift in attitudes with eight in 10 people changing opinions in the last year. Three-quarters of people surveyed believe biometrics are important in combating terrorism, with only 17 per cent viewing intelligence information as more important to fighting terrorism than biometrics. The UK population appears to be ready to welcome biometrics into everyday life with only nine per cent of respondents actively against their use in areas such as the rail network, the Tube, shops and airline networks.

Finns Unveil Plan case study image

Finns Unveil Plan

The Finnish presidency has unveiled its plan to break a long-term deadlock over the EU’s working time rules, suggesting a possibility for countries like Britain to keep their opt-out from the 48-hour weekly limit under stricter conditions. Speaking in Lahti, in the margins of an informal EU summit on energy and innovation, the Finnish social affairs minister Tarja Filatov told journalists that her government would try to convince the bloc’s leaders about its new proposal. Helsinki is the fifth country in the EU’s chair in a row trying to reach a deal on the working time ceilings, with Austrian predecessors commenting in June that the two camps that have emerged around the issue were "irreconcilable." While one camp – led by the UK and strongly supported by most "new" member states – claims people should be free to choose how much they want to work, the other group of countries – led by France – argue that it is primarily a matter of health and safety for employees not to get overworked. Under the EU’s current working time directive, employees cannot work more than an average of 48 hours per week calculated over a so-called "reference period" of 12 months, or they can plump for longer hours under an opt-out scheme which was secured by the UK. The new Finnish compromise suggests that countries could keep the opt-out under more rigid conditions for the reference period, so that employees could work a maximum of 60 hours a week calculated over just three months. If they do not make use of the opt-out, the Finnish plan suggests, they should benefit from the more flexible 12 month structure that gives them more freedom to factor in holiday periods and work-intensive seasons. A review of the currently applied working time law is needed following a 2004 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which said that the time some professionals spend "on call" should be regarded as proper "working time". The decision has direct implications for pay and rest conditions for doctors, other medical staff, firemen, social workers and some other professionals. Currently, three quarters of EU member states do not abide by the ECJ ruling, which prompted Brussels to propose a different definition of on call time and so change the working time directive. The European Commission is gearing up to take a legal action against most of them, with the Finnish minister urging that the national governments should try their best to avoid being taken to the court by agreeing to a revised directive. Last year, the then UK presidency suggested phasing out the opt-out in the future but some of its key critics – like France or Sweden – insisted on a clear date. The Finnish proposal also includes an idea of gradual ending of the opt-out – and points out that it should be treated as an exemption rather than as a rule – but leaves it up to the individual governments to tackle the matter in discussion with the social partners at national rather than EU level.

No Barrier To Employment case study image

No Barrier To Employment

It might seem extraordinary, but until recently British employers had total freedom to discriminate against their staff on the grounds of age. They could reject a job applicant, or turn them down for promotion simply because they were too old or too young. The new Employment Equality (Age) Regulations have changed all that. Age discrimination in the workplace – including ageist comments – is now outlawed. And employees will have the right to request to continue working after 65 (though employers don’t have to agree to it). The new rules are welcome and indeed long overdue, coming as they do four decades after the race equality laws. Unfortunately, employers aren’t celebrating as these new rules are set to tie them up in knots. Firms won’t be able to advertise for a "young, dynamic employee", "a recent graduate", or a "mature candidate". Keeping the elderly in work longer will merely encourage them to cling to jobs that the young would otherwise have. And if businesses do try to cut away the dead wood, lawyers will be the main beneficiaries. The US saw a 40% increase in employment cases when it’s Age Discrimination Act was introduced, and our Parliament hasn’t even voted on these constricting regulations. They are – as you may have guessed – the result of a diktat from the European Commission. We heard exactly the same sort of whingeing when the Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Acts were introduced, but this is an eminently sensible piece of legislation, giving due scope for what is called objective justification: genuine reasons for needing employees of a certain age. Gyms won’t be forced to recruit doddery old men; and firms looking for experienced executives will be able to turn down callow 18-year-olds. Doing away with ageism in the workplace is not just morally right, it’s a necessity. Life expectancy is rising and pensions are shrinking. Within 15 years, people over 50 will have to make up one-third of the entire workforce: the health of the economy will rely on convincing older workers that they’re not "passed it".

Tackling Counterfeiting With RFID case study image

Tackling Counterfeiting With RFID

Counterfeiting is estimated to be a $450 billion industry worldwide. The need to protect product and brand integrity is set to become the new value proposition for RFID. Controlling the legitimacy and the brand integrity of a product in the supply chain has been a struggle for manufacturers. However, a new twist on using radio frequency identification (RFID) may provide an answer. Smart electronic security markers, based on RFID technology, are making an impact with item-level security and laying the ground work for this kind of protection in future applications. RFID tags embedded at the product item-level make it easier to guarantee authenticity and represent an increasingly important value proposition for RFID by protecting product and brand integrity. RFID fights counterfeiting with an embedded electronic security marker, identifying a product or brand, that is automatically read as it passes through the supply chain either individually or as a group inside a shipping case. Over the past ten years, Tensor have been at the forfront of implementing RFID smart cards within our visitor monitoring systems. By using RFID, each smart card has an electronic security marker embedded into it, which is encoded with a unique data set that by itself or in conjunction with a network, can distinguish the product as genuine. This marker is unique to the individual product and cannot be easily altered, providing an enhanced level of security. Smart electronic security markers based on RFID technology make it easier to authenticate a product as genuine, compared with current anti-counterfeit methods that require human intervention. While there are a number of measures that can be taken to protect brand integrity in the supply chain for pharmaceuticals and other high-value items, RFID offers the most potential of any technology on the market today. There is a range of increasingly secure methods of using RFID to prevent different types of counterfeiting, using both an off-network and on-network approach to enable "anywhere, anytime" authentication of tag data and thus identifying the product as legitimate. RFID has always been about providing consumer convenience, protection and security in applications as diverse as automobiles, toll tags and retail payment. Now, RFID authentication of individual items can protect both consumers and companies alike against counterfeit goods.

Six Hour Limit Implemented case study image

Six Hour Limit Implemented

Businesses were ordered yesterday to ensure that their staff took minimum rest periods, after existing guidelines were dismissed as "meaningless" by the European Court of Justice. The ruling means that employers must ensure that staff take off at least 11 hours between working days, and have a minimum of 1 day off a week, as well as a 20-minute rest after every 6 hours of work. Business groups said that employees would be unable to choose to work long hours to earn more money because they would be forced to take breaks against their will. Brussels have argued that the decision simply brought Britain in line with the rest of Europe. The ruling was an embarrassing defeat for the Department of Trade and Industry, which drew up guidelines in 1998 stating that employers merely had to advise staff that they were allowed certain rest breaks. European judges said yesterday that the DTI’s advice encouraged employers to break the rules about time off. These were agreed at a summit by all EU members, including Britain, as part of the European Working Time Directive . Syed Kamall, a Conservative MEP, said that the ruling would make Britain’s labour market less flexibile by preventing employees from choosing to work longer hours. "This is a kick in the teeth for British workers who may want to work longer hours to pay for extra bills or family holidays," he said. "While many people have a healthy work-life balance, others may choose to put in extra hours to achieve their ambitions. Telling British employers to send them home against their will is nonsensical." Employers fear that the ruling could leave them open to employment tribunal cases on alleged abuses of the directive. Susan Anderson, director of human resources policy at the CBI, said: "The realities of working life cannot be ignored. Employers can’t stand over employees to make sure they take a full lunch or coffee break. Similarly, employers cannot police what employees do during their weekends or evenings – whether they take a second job, for example, or spend an hour or two thinking about a work issue. And employees do not want big brother looking over their shoulder to check what they are doing in their own time." But Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "Employers will now have to do their utmost to ensure their staff get the breaks they are entitled to. The Government must now change its guidance on rest breaks to ensure that workers know their rights and can benefit from them, and that employers know their responsibilities and meet them fully." The ruling from the court in Luxemburg stated: "The [DTI] guidelines are liable to render the right of workers to daily and weekly rest periods meaningless because they do not oblige employers to ensure that workers actually take the minimum rest period, contrary to the aims of the Working Time Directive."

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