Magnetic Key Cards Security

Magnetic Key Cards Security


A magnetic key card is a card with a magnetic strip or stripe that is inserted into a locking device to unlock a certain door or group of doors. Magnetic key cards often look like credit cards in size and shape, along with the magnetic strip at the back. The magnetic stripe, sometimes called swipe card or magstripe stores data by modifying the magnetism of tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card and is read by physical contact and swiping past a magnetic reading head.They are mostly used in situations where different levels of security are needed or where locks or access may need to be changed frequently.

Magnetic key cards are not the first type of key card systems to come out, but throughout the years it has replaced these other key card systems due to a number of advantages, higher levels of security being one.


Magnetic key cards can be used by companies that want to prevent non-employees from entering the premises or that want to restrict admittance to specific areas. Magnetic key cards can be programmed to allow only certain area privileges to individuals. Auditing and tracking of entry and exit thru accesses can also be done through logs done in the system used by the hotel or company.

In the hotel industry, magnetic key cards are not marked with room numbers. Traditional hotel keys usually come with a room number engraved on the key or at least attached to a tag on the key. Anyone who gained possession of the key would know the room number and gain access to the room as well.

Some groups have raised concerns that magnetic key cards used in the hotel industry may contain personal information, such as names and credit card numbers. However, this is not true, according to identity theft experts. They have said that the only information usually put on a magnetic key card is the name, room number and perhaps a partial address of the guest. All other information, such as the guests' financial information, is not placed on the magnetic key card.

Magnetic stripe forging or cloning can also be detected by the implementation of magnetic card reader heads and software that can read a signature embedded in all magnetic stripes during the card production process. This signature is known as a MagnePrint or BluPrint.