Why are open standards so important ?
An open standard is defined as a standard, the full specification of which can be accessed without any limits imposed by law, financial terms and conditions or a trade secret of the company which developed it.
World manufacturers of technical security systems, as well as IT solution providers, tend to support open standards, as they offer benefits for the manufacturers and end users alike.
The physical security industry can name at least five major groups, in which open standards are applied
1. Reader – controller communication (Wiegand, OSDP)
2. Access card systems (Mifare, Mifare Desfire, UHF)
3. Data encryption (AES, 3DES, TLS, SSL)
4. Communication protocols used for integration (ODBC, SOAP, REST)
5. Camera – server communication (ONVIF)
6. Reader – controller communication (Wiegand)
The Wiegand open standard was developed in the early 1980s, but it remains the most popular communication interface between the reader and the controller.
Nearly any reader can be connected to devices which support this protocol. However, its application poses danger.
The Wiegand communication is not encrypted in any way. To address this issue, the OSDP (Open Supervised Device Protocol) standard was developed. It is commonly referred to as the Wiegand’s successor.
Every month, more and more reader and controller manufacturers and systems support this standard. The standard translates into tangible benefits by providing bi-directional encrypted communication using fewer wires over long distances.
Access card systems
The Mifare Classic standard, though commonly used even today, was cracked 10 years ago. Why is it so widely used in RFID systems?
Since it is an open standard, there are many manufacturers who make cards and readers using it. So is the case with its successor, Mifare Desfire EV1, which provides an exceptionally high-security level.
Encryption of communication between the components is the key feature of security systems.
Open encryption algorithms, such as AES, TLS, are considered the most secure, because they have been made public so everyone can attempt to crack them.
A system supporting open standards makes the end customer invulnerable to any security holes which might be discovered in proprietary algorithms developed by the manufacturers, as was the case with the Mifare Classic algorithm.
Communication protocols used for integration
Security systems very often have to interface with third-party systems.
When both parties support open standards, such as ODBC, SOAP or REST, their integration does not require any middleware.
Thus, when the end-user wants to integrate both environments, the incurred costs will be much lower.
Camera – server/recorder communication
Most of you probably remember times when the first IP-based CCTV systems were introduced on the market.
ONVIF was completely unknown at that time. Back then, it was impossible to mix recorders/software with cameras made by other vendors.
Finding the ideal manufacturer of all the components on the market was hard. The ONVIF open standard made it possible.
Benefits to the manufacturers
When the device supports open standards, its owners can rest assured it will integrate and work with their own and third-party products alike.
Thus, the manufacturer can offer flexibility and openness to their customers.
Another advantage: such a product becomes more versatile, it can be operated in a greater number of applications.
Benefits to the customers
A customer who consciously selects products supporting open standards is not dependent on a single manufacturer.
Let us take for instance the crucial component choice – the card system: it should allow the purchase of cards or readers from other vendors in the future.
Which in turn makes it possible to negotiate prices.
Open standards also ensure that the selected system is future-proof – it can communicate with new devices on the market.
What are the benefits to you?
When you design a security system, and you include manufacturers or solutions which support open standards, you give your customer the best gift.
Why? Because the customer, when choosing the vendor, can select both the system and the devices comprising it that best suit their needs (e.g. as regards the reader physical appearance).
What is more, when further operating the system, the customer can choose a different card or reader provider if they want to expand the system.
They will pay less for the integration of their access control system with third-party software, and thanks to open standards, they will not have to ask the manufacturer to add a special feature.Another key element is the flexible choice of readers or card systems, which will later integrate with the access control system.
The customer can be assured that they system they bought is future-proof if we apply products that support open standards.
So, are you going to use products supporting open standards in your designs?