aptiQ™ Multi-Credential Reader: Mapping The Road To Increased Security

March 4, 2013
aptiQ™ meets the needs of magnetic stripe, proximity and smart card applications, allowing end-users expand and/or upgrade credential technologies easily.

The aptiQ™ multi-technology reader, which reads both proximity and smart credentials, now also reads magnetic stripe cards and is Near Field Communications (NFC) compliant.. These readers from Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies provide a simple migration path to increased credential security levels. The NFC feature enables migration to cellphones as credentials.

“Many organizations who still deploy magnetic stripe technology have asked us for an easy migration path to smart cards,” said Jeremy Earles, marketing manager for readers and credentials at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. “With our newly upgraded aptiQ multi-technology reader, organizations using magnetic stripe and/or proximity cards can switch over to smart cards as their budgets and planning allows.”

This flexibility helps straddle the gap that exists between many organizations’ existing card population and the most advanced security technologies, providing the ability to accommodate legacy technologies until budgets permit wide scale transitions. Many college campuses are faced with his dilemma. They are firmly entrenched in magstripe cards and systems and readers supporting them, but they are also adding new buildings and consequently new readers and electronic access control infrastructure. These new readers provide interoperability and an entry portal into a broader selection of authentication technologies such as Smartcards and NFC. The big buzz surrounding NFC is its promise to eliminate the need for a separate credential by allowing authorized individuals access using their own cellphone.

The multi-technology aptiQ readers provide unique advantages and flexibilities over others on the market today. One reader meets the credential needs of magnetic stripe, proximity and smart card applications, including MIFARE® Classic, the industry standard for contactless smart cards, and MIFARE DESFire™ EV1, which leverages open global standards for both air interface and cryptographic methods. Customers can expand and/or upgrade credential technologies easily. 

aptiQ readers can also read the card serial number (CSN) of most 13.56 MHz smart credentials and are able to communicate with the growing population of NFC enabled mobile phones. All aptiQ readers are FIPS 201-1 (Federal Information Processing Standard 201-1) compliant and have been approved by the U.S. Government under HSPD12 (Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12) as PIV (Personal Identity Verification) Transparent Readers. 

The open design of aptiQ credentials allows customers to choose their own partners to utilize the credentials for a variety of purposes, including cashless vending, cafeteria services, transit, building automation, and more, providing convenience and options that may not be available with a proprietary credential vendor.

It is a common misconception that migrating from mag stripe to proximity technology or onward to smart cards is a laborious task requiring a high initial investment. aptiQ Multi-Technology Readers and Credentials make these transitions easy and affordable.  The ability of aptiQ readers to read both proximity and smart credentials means that you can spread out your investment over time, liberating your budget for your other business needs.

The attractive, modern design and technological capabilities of the aptiQ MT11 reader are enhanced by the fact that the reader is so easy to install.  The mullion styling and easy-to-connect wiring harness makes the door frame-mounting process simple.  No more juggling between the reader and wiring during installation--simply connect the wiring harness and plug the reader in.

Similar to all Ingersoll Rand Readers, the MT11 operates on a Wiegand interface, and is completely ISO compliant. 

Features and Benefits include:

• Read Range: Prox--Up to 5"; MIFARE--Up to 4";  MIFARE DESFire EV1--Up to 2"; PIV Credential--Up to 2.5"

• Weight:  5.7 oz

• Dimensions: 5.91" x 1.72" x 0.81"

• Accommodates interior, exterior, metal, and non-metal installation environments

• Tri-state LED (red, green, amber) visual indicator and audio feedback representing status and activity information, easily discernible for the audibly or visually impaired

• Wiegand output for simple interface with most access control panels

• May be ordered with RS-485 capability

• Multiple color options

• Limited Lifetime Warranty

The MT11 reader is a replacement for the SXF1100, XF1100, SXF1200, and XF1100 reader products.

Q & A: Jeremy Earles

Locksmith Ledger interviewed Jeremy Earles, marketing manager for readers and credentials at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. Following are the Ledger’s questions and Earles’ answers.

What other electronics security brands are still owned by IR?

Schlage, Von Duprin, LCN; Steelcraft, Falcon,Ives,; Glynn-Johnson. Visit http://w3.securitytechnologies.com/irst/brands/Pages/default.aspx

What is your brand named and what products does your division offer?

First of all, there are no divisions in Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. There are different brands.

Readers and credentials from Ingersoll Rand are trademarked aptiQ (for smart technology) and XceedID (for proximity technology). Readers and credentials from Ingersoll Rand operate on an open standard protocol, independent of any particular software platform. This means our products interface with nearly any access control software on the market today to meet the wide variety of end user needs, independent of ties to any software. We have relationships with most software providers in the industry, including Vanderbilt, and our readers and credentials are almost always an option for end users.

Can you explain what NFC proximity and RFID are, and what products you offer in each category?

This is a very broad question, but I'll take an initial attempt to answer. 

Proximity is a contactless RFID technology that allows you to read a card without physically touching it to the reader. The reader emits an electromagnetic field that "wakes up" the circuitry on the card, prompting the card to emit its card number "in the clear." The reader then takes that information back to the panel and verifies it against a database to allow access to the door. Proximity is a popular and inexpensive access control credential, but security is very low as a proximity card could be skimmed and duplicated with little effort.  Ingersoll Rand offers proximity technology throughout the line of multi-technology readers, which can read most existing formats of proximity cards in the market today, including proximity credentials produced by our competitors. These readers also give an easy way to start a migration of existing credentials to smart technology credentials, a more secure option for access control.

Smart cards look physically the same as a proximity card, but there are very big differences beyond that. The communication frequency for proximity is 125kHz, which is relatively low when compared to a smart card which transmits at 13.56MHz. That allows much more data to be transmitted at a much faster rate, which is very important given the amount of data that is securely communicated between a smart card and reader. The advantages of smart cards are that they're more secure and they have the ability to store data for uses outside of security.

There are three very important security features of an aptiQ™ smart card from Ingersoll Rand that should be looked for in any "smart" solution: Encryption, Mutual Authentication and Diversified Keys.

Encryption refers to the communication speaking in a "hidden language" so if anyone tried to intercept or "skim" data, they would not be able to read it properly.  Mutual Authentication is a preliminary handshake between the card and reader, ensuring that the credential knows it's communicating with the proper reader before it gives up any secure data. And lastly, Key Diversification is very important because it ensures that, in the event that someone does figure out how to hack into one credential, only that single credential could be compromised and not the entire card population.  This is a very important point for security.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is the future of contactless access control.  NFC lets a smart phone be used just like a smart card.  Rather than carrying both a contactless ID card and a smartphone, now the user simply leaves his or her card at home and gains access by holding the phone itself up to a reader. The security and communication is exactly the same as the aptiQ smart card, using 13.56MHz and all the security features listed in the description of "smart technology" above.

The open architecture of NFC is built on the same open architecture that Ingersoll Rand has been using for years, so any Ingersoll Rand smart reader in the market today is already NFC ready without changing out the reader.  If a customer is interested in switching to NFC anytime in the future, they should be sure to check their existing reader on the wall, because most smart readers in the industry are not presently NFC capable.   Such non-NFC-enabled readers can be easily switched over to an aptiQ reader so the customer is ready for the future.

To read additional Locksmith Ledger articles about access control credentials, visit http://tinyurl.com/aptiq313.