Access Control for the Modern Workplace

One of the more exciting new solutions we found at this year’s GSX Conference was a brand new access control solution from Openpath Security.  Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Culver City, CA, they offer the most stylishly modern solution we have ever seen.

Probably the most notable advantage in starting up a new security technology firm is that the new solution can be designed from the ground up without the need to consider legacy equipment, outdated communication protocols, current integrations, or any such thing.  The new solution can be based solely on the user’s experience, thereby making it an inherently better design than a system that has morphed over the years while maintaining existing components and infrastructure.

This is exactly what we saw and experienced when we sat down with Alex Kazerani, CEO & Co-Founder and James Segil, President & Co-Founder of Openpath Security.  The Openpath solution is an elegantly designed seamless system that is unencumbered by the traditional access system design restraints of even the most current versions from mainstream access control manufacturers.  It reminded us of something you would expect to come from a high-tech California startup, which is just what Openpath is.

Alex told us, “We focused on the user’s perspective to tell us how to make a product that they would want to use instead of how to build something that integrators would want to sell.  We basically wiped out all assumptions and said, what is the experience that the user wants when they walk up to that door.”

He continued, “Then we went on to ask, what should the administrator’s experience be like, or the person in the facilities department.  We whiteboarded every aspect of the experience, beginning with onboarding all the way through the day-to-day use of the system.”

Easy of use at the door, specifically mobile credentials, rose to the top the list of user requirements.  While the idea of using your cell phone as an access credential is not new to the security industry, Openpath, again, had the advantage of beginning with a clean slate.  Watch the below video from their website to see how they have solved some of the problems associated with ease of use at the door.

Another area in which they stand out is integration with third-party applications.  Openpath offers integration with a surprising number of commonly used business tools.  Their Slack integration allows users to open doors from within Slack using their Cloud Key webhooks and can also tie in to their alerting tools to notify users of specific access events.  Openpath’s integration with GSuite allows your company to use Google as your primary directory service and provide Openpath with a synchronized source of authorized users for your access control system.  They also offer integration with Microsoft’s Active Directory service allowing your company to use Active Directory as your primary directory service.  You can sync and manage your Openpath users directly from Office365.  The first sync will import users, and users will continue to sync on an on-going basis when you add/remove users.  You can connect the schedules that run your business to the access control system that controls your entries so door unlock/lock schedules are in sync.

It was evident that Openpath wants to be more than “just another pretty face” in the security industry.  They take security seriously, baking in features like multi-factor authentication and redundant communication protocols.  The physical security industry has been lacking in technology security.  Manufacturers historically do a great job of keeping your building safe, but unfortunately, not so much when it comes to protecting valuable data and network infrastructure.  Openpath is a breath of fresh air in this regard.  Designed from the ground up to protect your facility, all the while being a safe and secure technology that won’t be the weak link in your cybersecurity efforts.

Watch this video to get a flavor of how they designed security into their security.

Melding security and convenience is the key.  James told us, “People are coming to expect the intuitive interaction they have with their IoT devices at home to be the same experience they have with their tools in the workplace.”  Legacy access control systems have been unable to provide this level of frictionless interaction.  As an example, James pointed out that they can “revoke credentials or install credentials with the click of a button.”  Not only does this make administering the system much easier, but it also raises security to a higher level.

By applying state-of-the-art machine learning and AI techniques it enables their system to make intelligent decisions about authentication and user intent. When there is a potential tradeoff between convenience and security, Openpath believes in providing the user with easy to use controls to make the choice that is right for them.

Watch this video to learn about their unique approach to combining security and convenience.

Their entire platform is built around the idea of using a mobile credential on your cell phone as the primary access methodology, although cards and fobs will work as well.  When asked about how they deal with the issues of unreliable cell signals, the lack of WiFi at a given location, and interference with Bluetooth, Alex showed us how the Openpath system initiates three requests each time the mobile credential is used.  It sends a cellular request, a WiFi request, and a BLE request.  A successful interaction only takes one of these technologies to connect so their system reliability is much higher than other systems on the market today.

Needless to say, we were impressed with the Openpath Security solution.  It holds the promise of providing what many in the industry have been clamoring for; a new solution that fits how users want to interact with their security system rather than a mile-long list of features that no one ever really uses.

By Steven Bowcut, CPP, PSP, Brilliance Security Magazine Editor-in-Chief