What is a Tailgating Attack? Stop Uninvited Guests!


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I have seen countless businesses fall prey to a tailgating attack. It’s one of the easiest and most common methods used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to secure areas. Let’s face it, we all love to feel welcome and open our doors to individuals who need to enter our premises. But when it comes to cybersecurity, that friendly and welcoming culture we create can be detrimental. So, what exactly is a tailgating attack and how can you stop uninvited guests from infiltrating your secured areas? In this article, I’ll provide you with the answers and highlight some key strategies to protect your business from falling victim to these types of attacks.

What is a tailgating attack?

A tailgating attack, also known as piggybacking, is a deceptively simple yet potentially dangerous physical security breach. It occurs when someone without authorized access to a building or restricted area tags along with someone who does have access, as they enter the premises. Here are a few key points to understand about tailgating attacks:

  • Tailgating can be intentional or unintentional. An attacker may intentionally follow someone into a restricted area to steal information or assets, while an unwitting employee may simply hold the door open for someone without realizing the potential security risks.
  • Tailgating exploits the human tendency to be helpful. People who are in a hurry or who are simply trying to be polite may hold the door open for someone without verifying their identity or checking their credentials.
  • Tailgating can lead to other types of security breaches. Once a person gains physical access to a building or restricted area, they may be able to bypass other security measures such as locked doors or security cameras.
  • Tailgating is preventable. Strategies for preventing tailgating include training employees on physical security best practices, implementing access control systems that require keycards or biometric identification, and employing security staff to monitor entrances.
  • In summary, tailgating attacks are a common and preventable type of physical security breach. By understanding the risks associated with tailgating and implementing effective security measures, organizations can protect their assets, information, and employees from potential harm.

    ???? Pro Tips:

    1. Always be aware of who is behind or around you when entering a secure area.
    2. Never disclose your access information or credentials to anyone, especially those who are following directly behind you.
    3. Regularly review your company’s security policies on tailgating and ensure you are following them at all times.
    4. Consider implementing security measures such as turnstiles, key fobs, or biometric authentication to prevent tailgating attacks.
    5. Train employees on the importance of security and the risks of tailgating attacks to ensure they are aware and vigilant.

    Understanding Tailgating: A Threat to Security

    Tailgating, also known as piggybacking or follow-on, is a form of social engineering attack where an unauthorized person gains entry to a restricted area by following an authorized person. This technique exploits human psychology, trusting that people will hold the door open or allow an individual to follow them closely without confirming if they have the proper authorization to access the area. Moreover, it is an act that is easily overlooked but may lead to devastating consequences if not prevented.

    Types of Tailgating Attacks and How They Occur

    Tailgating is a common type of insider threat, where the attacker is often an employee or a contractor. There are different types of tailgating attacks, including:

    • Straight-forward tailgating: This involves an attacker following another individual who has the appropriate access to a restricted area, such as an office building or server room.
    • Forced-entry tailgating: This is a more aggressive form of tailgating, where an attacker uses violence or threats of harm to enter a secure area behind an authorized person.
    • Piggybacking: This is a form of tailgating that occurs when an attacker follows someone through an access door opened or held by that person. It may involve an attacker entering the same door at the same time as an authorized person.

    The Impact of Tailgating on Physical Security

    The impact of tailgating attacks can be severe on an organization’s physical security. The attacker may steal, vandalize, or sabotage vital assets or cause harm to employees, data, and reputation. Tailgating can also create vulnerabilities for the organization to cyberattacks, theft of intellectual property, and identity fraud.

    Tailgating Attacks in High-Security Areas

    Tailgating attacks may occur in high-security areas such as airports, military bases, government agencies, and data centers, where security measures are strict, and access is limited to specific personnel. These areas may have sophisticated security measures such as biometric authentication, video surveillance, and turnstiles to prevent unauthorized access. However, the human element does play a vital role in the effectiveness of these security measures.

    Preventing Tailgating: Best Practices for Security Teams

    Prevention is better than cure. Here are some best practices that security teams should consider to prevent tailgating:

    • Educating employees and visitors to recognize and report tailgating incidents
    • Limiting entry points and creating controlled-access zones
    • Installing security cameras and monitoring systems
    • Conducting regular assessments of access control systems and procedures
    • Requiring multiple-factor authentication and biometrics for entry to secure areas

    Technology as a Solution for Tailgating Attacks

    In addition to the best practices mentioned earlier, technology can be a valuable tool for preventing tailgating attacks. Here are some technologies that organizations can use to address tailgating:

    • Optical turnstiles
    • Security portals
    • Security revolving doors
    • Swipe card systems
    • RFID-based systems
    • Biometric authentication systems

    These technologies can help to strengthen access control and create obstacles to prevent tailgating and unauthorized access.

    Real-Life Examples of Tailgating Incidents in the News

    Tailgating incidents happen more frequently than most people realize. Here are some examples of tailgating attacks that made headlines:

    1. In 2019, a US Air Force Sergeant stationed at a military base in the U.K. was caught tailgating through a secure entrance following another vehicle, carrying unauthorized personnel. The incident led to an investigation and significant security changes at the base.
    2. In 2017, a man was arrested for tailgating into a data center in Utah. He reportedly stole over $5,000 worth of equipment. The breach impacted several businesses within the data center.
    3. In 2015, a group of men tailgated into a San Francisco tech company’s office, stealing $40,000 worth of laptops and other equipment. The incident highlighted the importance of employee awareness and reporting suspicious behavior to security.

    In conclusion, tailgating is a significant security threat that can occur in many areas and industries. Preventing tailgating requires a combination of security awareness training, access control policies, and the use of security technologies. Implementing the best practices mentioned in this article can significantly reduce the risk of tailgating attacks and protect your organization’s assets.