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Open Source Access Control Systems


Open source systems provide unmatched flexibility in comparison to commercial proprietary solutions from a single manufacturer.

What are open source access control systems?

Open source access control systems are composed of individual components from a variety of manufacturers. With open source access control, the components are not restricted to a single manufacturer; instead, businesses can select each piece of the system individually. For example, your access control system’s software and underlying management interface can be from one manufacturer. Simultaneously, you select specific door switches, electronic door locks, card readers, and independent credentials. 

When it comes to open source access control systems, the user’s individual needs are the top priority. By allowing system administrators to choose from any compatible access control hardware and components from various manufacturers, they are in complete control. The access control system administrator can further modify the system with integrations without permanently committing to a single proprietary platform. 

The ability to select individual components provides increased flexibility and custom-tailored solutions to match your business’s security needs. Umbrella Security Systems specializes in creating commercial access control systems that meet the specific needs of its customers. If you plan to implement an access control system, contact us for a free consultation at 630-270-3313.

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Open source systems vs. closed proprietary systems

There are benefits for both open source and closed proprietary access control systems. Open-source methods are often less expensive than proprietary systems; with communities developing all aspects of the system rather than a single company, you can build your system using only the elements you need. Proprietary systems only work when the manufacturer owns the entire intellectual property of the software and required hardware. Proprietary access control companies typically do not share their Application Programming Interface (API) with other organizations and purposefully make it difficult to integrate their products with other manufacturers’ products. Proprietary software also comes with a dedicated team of professional developers writing the code and maintaining software based on the manufacturer’s principles.

We can guide you to choose the best access control system for your business.

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Benefits of Open Source Access Control Systems

Open source systems provide a range of benefits to access control system integrators, communities, operators, and suppliers. Below is a list of some of these benefits for businesses:


Lower Cost

Open source systems are customizable to any budget. The customization allows for lower initial investments and lower costs of upgrades to your security system. Upgrades are easier and less expensive with open source systems because new technology doesn’t scrap the previous investment in the “old” system.


No vendor lock-in

The user can take the individual components to any vendor to find a solution that meets their needs. Open source communities can help provide resources instead of just depending on a single company for solutions and support.



Open source access control software can integrate with secured products from multiple vendors on the market with related product services not covered by a single system. (Ex: biometric scanning or facial recognition software for access control systems)


Ease of Installation

Open source systems can be paired with pre-existing access control components such as card readers, electronic locks, etc. These pairings might require minimal cabling to upgrade an open source system.

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What is open source software?

The term “open source software” refers to software in which the source code is made freely available with a license. The user can then make changes or modify the software according to their needs.

Open source was tagged as “free software” for a long time. Notable programmer Richard Stallman established the free software movement in 1983 through the GNU Project. In 1998, a group of people changed the term “free software” to “open-source software (OSS).”

Like open source access control systems, open source software is non-proprietary and works with a concept of user choice. Your software choice often relies on peer review and community production to maximize open source systems’ communal benefit. Open source systems are a decentralized production model that provides innovative ways to solve problems within communities or industries.

Businesses can use open source software when the required access control hardware follows industry standards, and the Application Programming Interface (API) is available for collaboration and integration with their products.

Benefits of open source software


Secure and Stable

The software code is open at the backend of the system, allowing anyone to figure out and fix the defects overlooked by the software’s original creator. This property helps to keep the system up-to-date and error-free.


Peer Review

The source code in the open source software is freely accessible by communities or industry individuals. These peer programmers thoroughly review the code, reducing existing bugs in the software missed by the originator. Communities actively check open source code periodically. Additionally, peer review ensures the code is adequately tested. When IP-based open source hardware is used for proximity card readers and access panels, the most secure hardware can be merged with advanced cutting-edge software instead of depending on a single provider.


Secure and Stable

The software code is open at the backend of the system, allowing anyone to figure out and fix the defects overlooked by the software’s original creator. This property helps to keep the system up-to-date and error-free.

Open Source Software’s Biggest Weakness

The biggest concern about open source systems is the basic premise of open source – openness. All users see the same code used in open source systems of the software, which means there is a vulnerability in access control systems. This lack of central control from a single proprietary access control manufacturer provides hackers the opportunity to find gaps in the software and for operators to make access control mistakesIn many cases, this weakness and vulnerability make open source software no longer an option for access control administrators.

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Additional Risks of Open Source Access Control



Open source software can create legal risks and can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks/hackers. Businesses should clearly outline their privacy policies to limit their exposure. Companies must encrypt the personal data stored, analyze the data before processing, test and evaluate the effectiveness of technical or organizational measures for increased security, and regularly check on patches or maintenance needs in the software.


License Compliance Risks

Open source access control has license restrictions associated with it. When using the system, the company or user agrees to terms and conditions set by the originator. Therefore, businesses must keep track of open source licenses.


Software Quality Risks

Operators must verify and conduct quality assurance tests of an open-source system to keep the product stable and consistent.


Operational Risks

Open source software can also face operational inefficiencies. Businesses must keep the system updated with the most recent compatible version of the software. All aspects of an organization must adopt these system upgrades as they occur as well.


Developer Malpractices

When working with open source software, it is difficult to identify or track if a code snippet is added to your codebase. This could potentially make your applications open to future vulnerabilities.

At this point, companies must decide if the benefits of open source software make sense for their access control systems. Is your company willing to acknowledge and accept the security risks of using open source software that can be viewed by the same people you are looking to keep out of your facility?

Umbrella Security Systems has the expert knowledge and experience that will help you to choose the best access control system suitable for your business.

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