The use of electronically-based physical access cards to secure premises such
as government buildings and large corporate offices has been in operation
since the inception of barcode and magnetic stripe cards in the 1970s. Over
time, for secure access control, these first generation card technologies,
based on optical character recognition (OCR) and magnetic ink character
recognition (MICR), were replaced by more sophisticated technologies such
as smart cards and biometrics, containing encrypted data and techniques
that were more difficult to dupe or to replicate (Michael, 2003a).
An employee today, wanting to gain access to their place of work, typically
carries a photo identity card in addition to a contactless smart card
based on radio-frequency technology, and may also use one of his/her unique physical characteristics (e.g. fingerprint, palmprint, iris or face) for verification.
Generally, the more information-sensitive the public or private enterprise,
the greater the security measures introduced to safeguard against
fraudulent activities. Card technologies, nonetheless, which are items carried
by personnel, can also be lost or stolen, and photograph identity badges
can also be falsely replicated. This has led some innovators to consider the
potential of radio-frequency identification (RFID) or implantable devices
for employee identification, with the added possibility of using wireless networks
to undertake location fixes on employees in large premises (e.g. open
cut mines or manufacturing plants). Automatic identification devices have
the added capability of providing access to militarised zones, based on roles
and privileges as defined by administrator access control matrices.