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Difference Between MIFARE Card And Proximity Card

mifare card

Access control is important in any establishment to regulate who or what can view or use a given resource in the premise. Access control cards like MIFARE and proximity cards have been developed to possess contactless card technology. The cards have reduced the risk of unauthorized access to physical areas as the card has to link up to its reader to grant access. Across the globe, access control for security maintains its constant growth among many organizations. MIFARE or proximity cards are used mostly for access control, toll, ticketing, time, and attendance applications. Here is the basic information and differences between the two technology card options;

MIFARE cards

Originally, these cards and their readers were developed to handle payment transactions for public transportation systems.

Nowadays, due to the microchip and memory embedded in the MIFARE cards, the cards can provide authentication, identification, and store information. These cards are designed to keep your sensitive information safe as they are very durable. The cards are widely used for leisure, access control, events, e-government, transport, and loyalty. Until the MIFARE card and card reader mutually authenticate each other, encryption keys prevent data from being emitted. To add an extra ‘handshake’ between the card reader and the card reader’s software, a MIFARE card can be programmed with multiple credentials. The memory within the MIFARE card can be programmed for use as a pre-paid membership card or a cash card.

Proximity cards

These cards are embedded with a microchip which provides the prox card reader with the card’s identification number and/or site facility code number to be verified with a remote computer. These cards are suitable for door access control such as a hotel. A proximity card reader is connected to the access control system panel where wires transmit energy to the reader and data from the reader to the panel.

The main differences between the two technology cards

a) Storage/ memory value

A proximity card cannot store values whereas the MIFARE card has a memory of storing up to 1 kilobyte of data.

b) Configuration

Proximity cards of 26-bit use a facility code within their configurations whereas a standard MIFARE card has a unique 32-bit serial number that is factory programmed. This does not contain a facility code as it is a random number.

c) Frequency of operation

The frequency of a standard proximity card is 125KHz whereas of a MIFARE card is 13.56 Mhz.

d) Security

MIFARE cards provide high security because they use 128-bit AES encryption and security level 3 which is the highest, while proximity cards have a low-security level because they have a low frequency, which leaves a gaping hole for identity thieves and hackers to steal the unencrypted information. Proximity cards may compromise security as they do not hold any personalized data of authenticated personnel.

e) Applications

MIFARE cards can be used for card payments, access management, transportation, loyalty programs, pre-paid membership, security, identification, time, and attendance. The cards can be programmed with multiple data allowing one to update the card’s details to include all the information needed for various purposes. Proximity cards are commonly used for parking and door access control.

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