What Are Key Fobs? Report

A key fob, commonly known as a “fob” is a small security hardware device with a built-in authentication that is used to control and secure access to mobile devices, computer systems, network services, building operations, and secured information. Many key fobs are typically used as access control devices into secured buildings such as doors.

Key fobs are among a class of physical security tokens that includes smart cards, proximity cards and biometric keyless entry fobs. Hardware tokens are usually small enough for individuals to store on a key ring, in their wallet, pockets, and jackets.

How Do Key Fobs Work? Report

Modern key fobs function through the use of Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID), an intelligent barcode system that incorporates electromagnetic fields to identify and track data on “tags” that are composed of secured information. The information is passed using radio waves.

Many key fobs are used as access points into certain facilities, such as a door. In order to open a door using a key fob, you simply need to place the key fob on the reader system, for which the reader will allow or deny the access of the fob. Each key fob consists of a unique microchip with an exclusive frequency signal that communicates with the reader and indicated whether or not the door will open or deny access. Denied access usually states that either the key fob is defective or the reader simply cannot read the fob effectively enough to determine whether access should be granted or not.

Why Are Key Fobs Used? Report

There are several security methods that are used to access certain locations. Key fobs are greatly consumed due to their efficiency, ease and effectiveness in security. Unlike metal keys, key fobs do not require you to place the key inside a lock and wiggle it around to unlock the door – as all you have to do is place the fob on the reader and wait for about a second. However, a key fob does provide the same function as traditional keys, but in a more competent style.

In a nutshell, key fobs are specifically designed to be more adequate and easy, but still provide a high security system to ensure protection.

Key Fobs and Two Factor AuthenticationReport

In the enterprise, key fobs are used to enable two-factor authentication and to safeguard access to an organization’s private network and sensitive information. For example, many company’s require first, the fob to be tapped against the reader, and once the reader grants access, an additional authentication such as a phone text would be needed to grant full access into the facility.

The token code generally times out after a short period of time to prevent intruders from reusing the same codes to enter a facility. While there are some hardware tokens that only offer one-time password functionality, there are others that can store digital certificates and Windows authentication that can act as a user’s master key and may not require a second authentication.

Biometric authentication may also be incorporated into hardware tokens. Some devices use the traditional fingerprint method, while others require users to swipe the key fob. This action reads the fingerprint ridges, but also the finger pad’s seven layers of skin to authenticate the user.

Software token applications can offer the same authentication capabilities as the hardware tokens. Users can install a software token application on their smartphone to avoid carrying a physical device on their key ring.

Can a Fob be Duplicated?

What does it mean for security if a key fob has the ability to be duplicated? The answer is simple. It means that people and their personal information aren’t safe. But the question is, can a fob really be copied?


Duplicating a key fob requires some technical knowledge and an RFID reader. However, there are a countless number of key-fob-copying and duplicating services available that can easily clone the fob within minutes and at a small cost. For example, in the US, there are over 3,000 KeyMe Kiosks that can clone any fob in a short amount of time. When a fob is duplicated, the new copy represents an identical clone of the original and would be subject to the same allowances and restrictions.

What Does This Mean?

The ability to copy a device that holds full access to a highly classified and private facility is undeniably dangerous in terms of security. Entry into a private facility not only gives access to sensitive information, but it also gives access to the people in the building. Its very difficult to determine what type of person an intruder may be, whether they are violent, a computer hacker, an identity thief, etc. Therefore, the ability to clone a key fob not only implements a significant threat to an organization’s data, but to the people’s safety.