Improving Kiosk Security with Electronic Locks


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In the world of kiosks, ATMs, self-service terminals, vending machines and electronic lockers, software is typically a top design priority. However, hardware components that control access to the enclosure can be just as critical to the system's functionality and physical security. This white paper will discuss how access hardware has evolved from purely functional elements to devices that can actually enhance an enclosure's operation and physical security.

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Improving Kiosk Security with Electronic Locks

  1. 1. Using advanced access technologies to improve thefunctionality and physical security of self-service systemsBEYOND BARRIERS
  2. 2. 1.610.459.4000In the world of kiosks, ATMs, self-service terminals,vending machines and electronic lockers, software istypically a top design priority. However, hardware componentsthat control access to the enclosure can be just as criticalto the system’s functionality and physical security. OEMengineers and system integrators can enhance their productsand gain a competitive advantage by integrating advancedaccess technology.New materials and manufacturing techniques haveantiquated conventional cylinder locks and transformedlatches, hinges, handles, and levers from purely functionalelements to devices that can actually enhance an enclosure’soperation and physical security.Electronic access systems are no longer just locks andlatches that simply provide barriers. They are intelligentsystems linked to the system’s software that can provideadvanced “vending” functionality. Activated by purchaserequests, these devices enable products and services tobe dispensed appropriately. Beyond simple inventory thatis uniform in size and shape (think beverage containers),intelligent systems can manage complex transactions thatrequire multiple steps for goods of various dimensions, aswell as the return of used stock to the machine. Thus, thesesystems make it possible to expand self-service units intomarkets previously unimagined.The devices can also control access to the enclosures byservice and maintenance personnel and provide audit trailsto document all of the service activity. With this kind ofintelligence, owners can manage their self-service systemsmore efficiently, and it can even be done remotely.From Functional to FormidableHardware, such as hinges, latches and handles should beevaluated by how they can contribute to the enclosure’sfunctionality and security because the two are intertwined.Obviously, hardware must contribute to security by reducingopportunities for vandalism and theft. Internal and flush-mounted hardware help eliminate pry points. New materialsand manufacturing processes have created hardware thatcan resist damage from the vandal’s favorites tools —screwdrivers, cat’s paws, scrapers, pry bars, etc.Enclosures are most vulnerable during regular replenishmentand repairs. Improving the way service personnel andmaintenance technicians interact with an enclosure (theergonomics) can shorten the time that it is open, and thusreduce security risks.For example, some gasketed latches and handles can satisfyNEMA 4 and IP-65 standards for protecting the unit againstwater and dust penetration. Less water and dust means fewerservice calls and, thus, fewer chances for security breaches.Detent hinges will hold access panels, doors and coverplates securely open or closed — not swinging in between.Constant-torque position-control hinges, on the otherhand, securely hold at any desired position in the hinge’soperational arc — not just in the fully opened position. Bothof these specialty hinges allow service technicians to workwithout having to hold panels open. For outdoor systems, itmeans that panels will remain open in windy conditions. Onindoor systems, these hinges will keep panels open even if theenclosure is off-kilter or the slab is not level.The Call for MoreWith advances in technology, the average price-point of kioskand vending transactions is creeping upward. This is closingthe gap between their traditionally lower security needs andthe high-level security used on ATMs. That growing pricepoint is causing many vending and kiosk owners to specifythe latest ATM-style electronic access technology — andjustifiably so. Regardless of the application, having a goodunderstanding of electronic access technology options willhelp engineers and other system designers incorporate theright solution into the enclosure design.The heart of the most robust electronic access systems isa reliable, electromechanical lock or latch (EML). The EMLdesign ultimately influences system electrical requirements,physical security, installation options and the industrialdesign of the overall system. Today’s EMLs are robust, vandal-resistant devices with built-in intelligence and mechanical
  3. 3. 1.610.459.4000override options. For example, in a kiosk that “rents” chargersfor electronic devices, the EML responds to the consumer’spurchase request, unlocking a specific “locker” compartment.It also knows to secure the compartment door when theconsumer retrieves their fully charged device and shutsthe door.A high-quality EML provides added security over mechanicallatches and adds tremendous possibilities for access-controlmonitoring. EMLs can transmit latch status with a simpleindicator light or a sophisticated networked monitoringsystem, depending on the desired level of security and thesensitivity of the enclosure’s contents.Today’s advanced EMLs feature gear motor drives thatprovide higher load capabilities using less power thanprevious latches, reducing the kiosk’s overall energyconsumption. It is important to design the latch to overcomeunforeseen loads as in the case of jam conditions.Human Touch PointsAfter selecting the most appropriate EML, engineers shouldselect suitable access control devices for their specificapplication. The human interface is an important componentbecause it controls the way both customers and servicepersonnel interact with the self-service system. Fortunately,there is a wide variety of access-control devices available— from simple stand-alone keypads to radio frequency (RF)remote-control systems and sophisticated biometric readers.Customers typically need only enough entry into the machineto retrieve their product or service. The EML controls thatentry through the software interface, and their access isrestricted to the one compartment or “locker” that containstheir purchase. On the other hand, repair technicians,money handlers and inventory managers have very differentrequirements. Owners may not want all of these servicepersonnel having access to all parts of the enclosure. Accesscontrol technology exists to limit access to specific parts ofthe self-serve system. For example, the instrument paneldoor could use an electronic rotary latch that respondsto the technician’s key fob, while the latch on the productcompartment doors could respond to a biometric reader.Both interfaces are easily reprogrammed when personnelchange, safeguarding the kiosk from theft.Stand-alone keypads are convenient plug-and-play solutionsthat do not require software or network administration. Theyare also convenient because employees and service personneldo not have to carry a physical key or card. With this typeof system, operators can manage and monitor uniqueuser access codes and change codes without physicallydistributing new keys or access devices to employees.Another option is the electronic key. Personnel press thistiny device against the remote sensor to gain entry toan enclosure. Electronic keys are especially suited forapplications where there are many users with differentaccess privileges across a large number of enclosures. Anelectronic key system is easy to program and access can beadded or removed without having to change the lock plug.Other access control options include proximity-based andremote RF control systems, which are wireless and non-contact solutions that can open locks and latches withoutphysical contact.Security from a DistanceA remote monitoring or a networked solution is the finalpiece to a full electronic access solution. Remote monitoringprovides an added level of security for sensitive and high-value assets. Each time that an EML opens or closes, a signalis sent to a remote monitoring system to confirm and logaccess, leaving an “electronic signature” and creating anaudit trail of the event.For example, electronic locking rotary latches or swinghandles contain sensors and multiple output signals thatprovide data for both local and remote monitoring, making thesystem ideal for ATMs and vending machines with high-valueinventory, such as MP3 players and cell phones, that areappealing to criminals.A service employee could call a special number atheadquarters when he is in front of the machine, andheadquarters could initiate the release of the electronic latch.
  4. 4. 1.610.459.4000Retrofitting for IntelligenceServing as both a locking/latching device and intelligentaccess interface, an EML offers a full range of retrofit optionsto update the security and control of existing enclosures.Many EMLs are also backward compatible with existing EASinfrastructure, such as card readers, fingerprint readers andPIN pads. This means that past investments can be scaled upas the organization expands. Keeping all or part of an existingsystem can significantly reduce deployment costs and enablefaster integration.Retrofitting is also an issue in the continuing development ofEML technology. Flexible EML designs simplify the integrationwith existing access solutions, mechanical or electrical. Thisincludes how the EML works with the physical environment(such as mounting hardware and the EML’s engagementwith the physical enclosure), and with the existing electricalwiring, controls and power systems.While wireless options are in development, the majority ofnear-term innovations are focused on minimizing wiring andbroadening compatibility. Retrofitting an EML with a user’scurrent access control system means that the EML mustaccommodate existing power and control systems, which cancover a wide range of current and voltage requirements.Locking in on the FutureAs with any energy-consuming device, efficiency is an areafor continuous improvement. The goal is to use minimalpower while releasing under higher mechanical operatingloads (i.e., resistance from stiff gaskets) and resisting highermechanically applied loads from vandals. More efficientelectro-mechanics have enabled battery-operated solutionsthat minimize wiring and reliance on separate power supplies.Optimum security solutions provide all relevant informationabout the status of the locked compartment to remotemonitoring locations. Defining the lock’s electronic andphysical states, as well as data on potential tampering, jamconditions and door closure status, gives the operator thebest information possible. For example, is the latch locked,but door panel open? If a more intelligent system couldrecognize the difference, it could take security to a whole newlevel, all the way down to the actual point of access.Designers of self-service systems should give carefulconsideration to hardware that controls and affects access tothe enclosure. Attention to these details can provide ownersa greater return on an investment through improved control,increased functionality and reduced asset loss.
  5. 5. About SouthcoSouthco has a dynamic history of growth and transformation spanning three centuries. The company was founded in 1899, asa specialty pipe manufacturer for the burgeoning Pennsylvania oil industry. In 1945, Southco, Inc. was created with the entry intothe specialty fastener and latch business. Over the past 60 years, we have transformed and grown through innovation, strategicacquisitions and overseas investments into a global leader in Engineered Access Hardware.Southco solutions are a key part of products you and thousands of others interact with every day. Our engineered accesshardware solutions include key “touch points” such as locks, latches, captive fasteners, hinges, handles and other innovativeproducts. Our application universe is immense and covers industries such as marine, automotive, off-highway/construction,RV/caravan, industrial machinery, enclosures, HVAC, medical equipment and network, telecommunications and computers.For more than 100 years Southco has helped customers solve and overcome engineering challenges. Our passion, vision andfocus today is to help customers differentiate the engineered “touch points” of their products so they become easier to selland use by the end users. We strive to realize this vision by investing in a strong technical sales and marketing team backedby engineering and operational excellence.Southco is an industry leader of today and prepared for the possibilities of tomorrow.Please visit to view our complete range of 1.610.459.4000