The smartest lock in town
A new intelligent, wireless lock is set to make extending access control quick, painless and affordable. ASSA ABLOY’s new WiFi lock, the Sargent VS2, combines the intelligence of an offline lock with the network connectivity of an online lock.
“We have many locks that make their own decisions,” explains Bret Tobey, Intelligent Openings Business Development and Product Manager for ASSA ABLOY Americas. “Decisions such as: ‘Do I let this person in or keep them out?’ Up until now, these locks were a compromise between being able to communicate in real time and making decisions inside the lock. An online lock had no intelligence – it waited for someone to tell it what to do. Not anymore.”
In a class of its own
Of the handful of WiFi locks on the market today, the Sargent VS2 is the only intelligent lock, say Tobey. “Others will likely follow our lead eventually,” he says. “There is another wireless lock on the market today, but it relies on an access control panel to make its decisions. Another lock uses radio technology, but the electronics are on the insecure side.”
The Sargent VS2 also stands out from other wireless locks because it requires no proprietary infrastructure to function. “You can use it with any off-the-shelf 802.11 b/g access device,” Tobey explains. “Every other wireless lock out there requires that you buy both the lock and a proprietary device in order to understand its radio signals.”
What also sets apart the VS2 is simplicity. While traditional online access control locks can feature a dozen components – such as a wired access control panel that houses the ‘brains’ of the lock – the new lock brings together every component in a single package.
The entire VS2 unit is comprised of a keypad, lock and handle brought together in a stylish, easy-to-install unit. Because it runs on batteries, the lock is ideal for interior doors with a moderate number of entries and users.
“You don’t want to put it on a door that gets thousands of entries per day – it would wear out. You would use this lock on a door that has, say, hundreds of entries per day,” Tobey explains. The lock is designed to extend the existing access control system to openings that would previously have been serviced by an offline or mechanical lock.
“This new lock will take the place of those offline locks that were just used to ‘get the job done’,” says Tobey. “But businesses tell us it would be so much nicer if they could hit their price point while also putting their lock on the network. Those offline locks don’t give you information if something has gone wrong. It may stop the wandering public, but it can’t communicate to you.”
End users won’t notice a difference when they utilize the new wireless locks, Tobey explains. The benefit is in the simplicity of installation, compared with traditional online technology which requires an electrician and an installer. “You can take this lock and put it in place where, before, you would have grumbled about what a hassle it was and how much it cost for a traditional online lock. With this lock, all you need is to drill a couple of holes in the door,” he says.
A simplified installation process helps make the VS2 lock more cost effective, allowing businesses to utilize an online, intelligent lock in areas that would have proven too costly in the past. “With traditional components, you might have had a door that you wanted to monitor – say a conference room or a supply room – but you wouldn’t have spent thousands of dollars to outfit the door with access control. With this lock, you can deploy access control at a fraction – between 1/3 and 2/3 – of the cost.”
Once installed, the user can control the lock’s access and permissions with a simple browser-based application for a handful of locks, or with their current access control system using an interface kit.
But while the new lock can bring a heightened level of security, it is not ideal for every location. In addition to lacking the multiple applications that might be necessary for a front door – such as multiple sensors, alarm outputs and additional security – as a WiFi device, the VS2 lock is subject to a denial of service attack.
“With anything on a radio signal, an attacker can interfere with that signal so that alarms can’t be transmitted,” explains Tobey, adding that ASSA ABLOY has taken steps to counter such an attack on the VS2. “Wireless data is very easy to intercept, so we assume someone is ‘listening’ to the VS2 and we encrypt our communications at the application layer combined with whatever network encryption is allowed,” Tobey says.
While blocking the radio signal of the VS2 would require a level of effort and sophistication that make such an attack highly unlikely, Tobey recommends using traditional online access control at entry points that require heightened security.
“Prudence says that you don’t use a radio signal on your perimeter. This system is to be used when you’re trying to extend access control to places that don’t currently have it,” he explains. “When you use it in that manner, you’re still ahead of the game.”
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