Mifare Keycard Access

The Leading component in keyless access control systems the world over.

generalschluessel-hand (3)

Security teams prize the affordability, reliability and technical capabilities of MIFARE cards – a leading component in keyless access control systems the world over. Organisations have numerous reasons to recommend the use of MIFARE cards. Lightweight and inexpensive to procure, MIFARE is a contactless smart card technology that scales up to meet the demands of growing businesses, and can seamlessly support future innovations.

With data and physical security challenges topping the risk agenda for global organisations, the latest MIFARE card products can be trusted to reliably and affordably support every security strategy.

MIFARE door access control is, in fact, just the start of the story. MIFARE cards are used to unlock office doors in a flash, but they also have multiple other applications. Up to 8K of memory is concealed within a slim MIFARE card. This would be sufficient to audit the movements of guests and employees around buildings, to authorise print jobs or to pay for drinks at the office coffee machine. Some organisations programme their MIFARE cards to let users log on to computer systems and equipment, thereby reducing employees’ reliance on passwords and passphrases.

Employees using contactless MIFARE cards to unlock their offices benefit from a hassle-free security system that is hygienic and secure. They can relax, safe in the knowledge that a lost or stolen MIFARE card can be easily blocked and replaced by their security team. Unlike mechanical keys, or the more expensive fobs and transponders on the market, a MIFARE card can be cancelled within minutes and be cheaply replaced with a newly-programmed alternative card.

Business owners also prefer the affordability and scalability of a MIFARE door access control system based upon MIFARE cards. A growing business, which has recently acquired larger premises, can install a secure keyless door access system using MIFARE for a fraction of the cost of other access solutions. A MIFARE card and MIFARE card reader is a quick and affordable solution for any business that wants to add new levels of security, as a one-off upgrade. A new lockable door to secure a meeting room, for example.

generalschluessel-hand (2)

What is MIFARE card access?

MIFARE card access is the use of smart card technology within keyless entry systems. Offering an alternative to metal keys, fobs or transponders, MIFARE cards are a leading brand of key card or smart card, used in commercial or residential access control systems. Rather than fobs or transponders, MIFARE smart cards can be used by authorised employers and guests to unlock doors and miscellaneous facilities within the workplace.

These keyless access MIFARE cards are carried by a vast range of people, ranging from students and hospital teams to office staff and retail workers. Not only are MIFARE cards used for door access, their technology can be used in endless ways. Ranging from making payments on the local public transport network to checking library books in and out of the university campus library, MIFARE cards are using high-frequency radio waves to help us thrive in keyless environments.

How do MIFARE cards work?

HF MIFARE cards use high frequency (13.56 Mhz) to produce a ‘handshake’ with any associated MIFARE card readers in a given building. This interaction between card and card reader will, in turn, send a signal to an eclectic door lock, asking it to unlock for an authorised MIFARE card holder. These contactless MIFARE cards contain a powerful, small antenna and a memory chip for data storage. Data held on these cards is securely encrypted before being unlocked and transmitted to a MIFARE card reader, in order to trigger a command.

Access credentials held on a MIFARE card can be easily altered in the event of loss, theft or a revoking of access. This functionality allows organisations with MIFARE card access systems to make significant cost savings. Replacement key cards are far cheaper to buy (especially in bulk) than mechanical keys and replacement mechanical locks.

generalschluessel-hand (1)

What is a MIFARE card reader?

The MIFARE card reader is the fixed component part of a MIFARE keyless access system, and it is designed to respond to the radio frequency of an authorised MIFARE key card. When a card reader authenticates an authorised MIFARE key card, it acts as an encryption key, signaling data to be emitted. Any data that is saved to the MIFARE card stays securely scrambled until the card and reader have mutually authenticated each other, or shared a digital ‘handshake’. This is how the MIFARE card reader software works, for example, to spring open a keyless lock, or to check a library book back into stock and update your library membership record.

How are MIFARE cards programmed?

Facilities teams can quickly and easily tackle the job of MIFARE card programming. The process of imprinting new smart cards with the access credentials of employees, contractors and guests can be as simple as connecting a MIFARE card reader and writer to a computer system, via the USB port. Simply write each card and wait for the completion pop-up message.

What industries are using MIFARE keycard access and why?

Since the early 1990s, these HF smart cards have been used to help secure the offices of multi-sector industries around the world. First adopted as a contactless payment method for automated fare collection on public transport, the ubiquitous MIFARE card has far exceeded its original use case.

Today, MIFARE cards are helping to secure some of the world’s most important buildings – those containing sensitive information on their computer networks and in their physical archives, and where people expect to be able to live and work in safety. A vast range of industries use MIFARE, a leading brand in keyless cards, for their access control systems. These sectors range from medical facilities to pharmaceutical laboratories and the maritime industry to education, hospitality, digital technology and energy companies.

Key applications of MIFARE cards include access management, micropayments, campus and student ID cards, loyalty programs and government social service cards.



Before we discuss the issue of Mifare card vs rfid, it’s useful to understand what connects these technologies. Radio frequency is the shared characteristic of these two types of contactless card. A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card offers many of the benefits of MIFARE, but with much less memory. While a MIFARE card can be used for identification purposes or making contactless payments, RFID is best used as a unique identifier of an object. RFID was introduced into the electronics market in the 1980s as an improvement upon printed barcodes. In this sense, it’s clear that RFID is suited to the tracking of inventory along a supply chain from source to consumer, rather than for access control and security purposes.

Can MIFARE cards be cloned?

Many years ago, security researchers were able to hack outdated MIFARE Classic® smart cards. Cloning was identified as a weakness of MIFARE access cards and the vulnerability became common knowledge.

In light of these findings, it’s recommended that organisations with access systems containing MIFARE Classic® products plan a security upgrade (to upgraded access management systems, using MIFARE Plus® and MIFARE® DESFire®), and look to install additional security measures above and beyond the Classic card.

The MIFARE Plus® product range, for example, offers a smooth and easy upgrade from the MIFARE Classic®, and is backwards compatible to the earlier model. It uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for authentication processes, data integrity and encryption. AES is the global standard demanded by government IT security and data protection.

The security community is reportedly in agreement that MIFARE Classic® cards have not been a smart choice since 2008. Unlike some proximity cards on the market, new-generation MIFARE cards cannot be stolen and duplicated in seconds.

How secure are keyless entry systems?

Keyless entry systems, using MIFARE cards, mitigate the security risk of lost and stolen keys. These smart cards can be rapidly cancelled; thereby minimising the risk of a physical security breach. Unlike mechanical keys, the latest models of MIFARE key cards (MIFARE DESFire® and MIFARE Plus®) cannot be copied and fall into the wrong hands.

With MIFARE, your keyless locks do not have to be replaced in the event of a lost or stolen key, which saves money and avoids waiting for a locksmith to install a replacement lock.

In the event of an emergency security breach, an organisation using MIFARE technology can quickly contain a developing situation. MIFARE card access systems let security teams remotely lock or unlock doors, and/or revoke the access rights of a suspicious individual.

What is the cost of a MIFARE keyless entry system?

Set a sensible budget, in the region of £1,000 per door, if you want to secure your facilities with MIFARE cards, readers and MIFARE card reader software. Bulk orders of MIFARE cards for your new system (and for a supply of replacement cards) offer incredible value for money. Your cards will arrive rapidly and be user-programmable, which means no additional proprietary costs have to be absorbed for external MIFARE card programming. At the higher end of the scale, MIFARE® DESFire 8K cards cost approximately two pounds each, or £1.25 for 4K.

MIFARE cards are a significant component in the secure, keyless world that is developing across global recreational, commercial and residential sectors. Their wireless technology can unlock doors, store access credentials and so much more. In the Mifare card vs rfid debate, the incredible value, reliability and technical capabilities of MIFARE cards makes them a leading choice for keyless access.


Please give me a call: