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NFC, BLE Transform Mobile Phones into Digital Access Controls

HID Global's Crescendo Mobile app-based solution is being tested by its own employees and customers to enable workers to securely provide credentials for computer access at the touch of a smartphone.
By Claire Swedberg

The Crescendo system consists of an app that can be downloaded onto a user's phone that communicates with access-control points and computers. To enroll in the system, an individual would receive an e-mail from his or her employer's human-resources or IT office, containing a link to download the app, along with user-enrollment credentials that allow the user to connect and enroll their phone as a secure credential. At the end of the enrollment process, the user creates a secret personal identification number (PIN) that can be used, along with the phone, for access.

The system then enables that person to set up the device to be accessed, such as a desktop computer or laptop. The user can establish whether the system will use a Bluetooth connection or NFC to authenticate the card. The app generates unique user keys in the form of an encrypted unique ID number, while the device—a computer, for example—can be set up to require that unique ID be transmitted by the mobile phone before the individual can log in.

HID's Martin Ladstaetter
If the employee steps away from the computer, the system could automatically log out, either based on the break in Bluetooth transmission or (if NFC technology is being used) on a preset inactivity time limit. Once that individual returns, he or she would be automatically logged back in once within Bluetooth range for authentication, or that person could utilize the mobile phone to log back in by tapping his or her phone near the device, in the case of NFC.

Although there are biometric and password tools available for securing an employee's device, Ladstaetter notes, such solutions only use a single authentication factor and do not provide the same level of secure credentialing that the Crescendo solution offers. By employing HID Global's IdenTrust digital certificates, Crescendo allows users to set the system up for specific actions, such as logging into Microsoft Windows, accessing the company's virtual private network (VPN), signing a document, or receiving and sending encrypted e-mails. Therefore, he says, the system "provides unified lifecycle management credentials and digital certifications from multiple certification authorities in a common user credential and integrated management system."

At least one company has been testing the technology for approximately six months, with more set to join it during the pilot stage. Following that firm's feedback, HID Global launched the solution commercially in December 2018. Businesses most likely to employ the solution include insurance companies, other global enterprises and health-care firms that want to authenticate medication prescriptions or other information. What's more, workers at HID's Fremont site are trialing the system in the form of Crescendo cards—as well as, in some cases, Crescendo Mobile services.

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