Tailgating Attacks: Understand the Risk

A tailgating attack occurs when an unauthorized person gains entry to a secured area by following an authorized person through an access point. The best way to prevent tailgating attacks is through security measures such as guards and turnstiles, alongside policies and training to encourage vigilance.

Tailgating attacks often happen because the authorized person was either being kind or complacent. It’s common courtesy to hold the door open for someone, even if that courtesy opens the door for unauthorized access. Tailgating can also happen simply due to inattention: an employee might not notice when someone else came in before the door could shut behind them.

Tailgating Attack Examples

Many businesses have secured exterior doors specifically for employees. If an employee spots a person approaching a secured entrance that’s carrying an armful of boxes, the employee might input their access code and then hold the door for an unauthorized person, not realizing that the individual shouldn’t be allowed inside. This is a classic example of a tailgating attack.

For another example, many companies secure their server room doors, ensuring only designated IT team members can reach the equipment. If an approved IT employee uses their keycode to open the door, they are gaining authorized entry. If an unauthorized person comes through the door before it closes, that person has tailgated their way into the room.

How to Prevent Tailgating Attacks

Building Security

One of the foundations of preventing tailgating attacks is physical building security. If you want to prevent tailgating, using mantraps like full-height turnstiles can be an ideal approach. Turnstiles only allow a single person to pass through when credentials are entered, making tailgating much more difficult.

Other mantraps can also be effective. For example, having a room designated to function as an airlock can be ideal for highly sensitive areas. The room serves as an authentication space, making it easier to spot or stop unauthorized individuals. Additionally, it can be designed where only one door may open at a time, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized persons gaining access to critical areas.

Guards are another effective tool. Often, the simple presence of a guard acts as a deterrent. Plus, you’ll have a set of eyes trained on key entry points, ensuring that tailgating attempts are identified quickly, and immediate intervention is possible. Adding cameras can add another layer of detection and deterrance.

You can read more about building security in our complete guide to Physical Access Control.

Employee Training and Involvement

If you want to prevent tailgating attacks, training is essential. Employees need to be made aware of the dangers of tailgating attacks, as well as the approaches an unauthorized person may use to gain access.

It’s also wise to provide clear instructions regarding how to react to tailgating attempts. This should include where to direct visitors, delivery drivers, or others if they require assistance from the company, as well as how to report suspicious activity.

Creating a simple system for reporting tailgating attempts is also wise. When the process is easy, employees are more likely to participate. Plus, this can give your company a centralized mechanism for researching potential incidents regardless of whether they were successful.

Additionally, you need to develop a culture in which denying a person access – even if they protest and, ultimately, are identified as an authorized person who forgot an access card or other credential – is allowed. Recognizing employees who are diligent about access control can be a great way to encourage the behavior, showcasing that their vigilance is valued and rewarded.

Similarly, creating policies that require all workers to swipe their card or enter their code when entering a secured space – even if several authorized people are coming through at once – is a great idea. It makes the process formal and creates avenues for addressing undesirable habits if they arise.

Ultimately, most tailgating attacks are preventable. By taking the proper steps, your company can safeguard its employees, property, and assets, ensuring unauthorized individuals can’t get into places they don’t have the right to reach.

About the Author

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Catherine Reed

Catherine Reed is a writer and researcher with experience writing about a wide variety of topics including personal finance, technology, and staffing.