When you think about security, you likely think of fences, gates, guards, and the people they're meant to keep out or the events they protect us from. But you might not think of another critical piece in the security puzzle - the issue and management of credentials. In a secure environment like an airport, it is vital that those with access to sensitive areas be known and vetted, and their need to access those areas is confirmed. All of this happens in a capable credentialing operation. Let's consider three aspects of credentialing:
- Identity Verification
- Background Investigation
- Access Confirmation
As many high school and college students will attest, getting a fraudulent ID is not terribly difficult. In a credentialing office, a key function is verifying that the person applying for a credential is who they say they are. This is often accomplished by requiring multiple forms of identification at several points in the application process. For instance, many credentialing processes require certain trained individuals (signatories) to handle the submission of credential applications. Those signatories should check the applicant's IDs. At the credentialing office, staff should again check the same IDs, and also verify that they are authentic. This helps ensure that no one is successful in an attempt to use someone else's identification to obtain access credentials.
Another component of credentialing is initiating and managing a background check of all applicants. Depending on the specifics of the environment, specific checks may be required by regulation. Credentialing offices are often the place where fingerprints are taken and submitted to the entities who perform the background investigations. When the results of the background check are returned, the credentialing office is typically tasked with verifying that there are no adverse findings or, if there are, coordinating any adjudication efforts. In some cases, the adjudication is handled within the credentialing operation; in others, it may be performed by law enforcement in conjunction with the credentialing office.
In addition to making sure an applicant is who they claim to be, and that their background does not preclude granting them access to sensitive areas, it is vital that they have an operational need to be in those areas. A competent credentialing process includes a means of confirming that the nature of someone's duties requires them to access a particular area. This means more than simply checking boxes to grant access. It often involves reviewing contracts or job descriptions to make sure access to an area (or door, gate, etc.) is necessary for the applicant to effectively perform the duties of their job.
Because it ensures that (1) applicants are who they say they are, (2) they are not disqualified from access to sensitive areas, and (3) they have a legitimate operational need to be in those areas, credentialing really is the front line of security.
TransSolutions has proven experience in assessing credentialing processes and facilities. To request more information, or to arrange a site visit, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.