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What Are Tailgating Attacks and How to Protect Yourself From Them

 Explore tailgating attacks and RedZone's strategies for prevention, focusing on access control, employee training, and integrated security solutions.

What is Tailgating in Cybersecurity?

Tailgating in cybersecurity is when unauthorized individuals sneak into restricted areas by following someone with authorized access. This security breach often occurs in business settings and is a straightforward method to bypass physical security like electronic door systems. It usually happens when an employee unknowingly allows an unauthorized person to follow them into a secure area, posing a serious risk by potentially exposing sensitive information or areas to these intruders. While sometimes unintentional, tailgating remains a significant threat to a company's security, as it can lead to unauthorized access to critical data or resources.

Tailgating Attacks vs. Piggybacking Attacks

Tailgating and piggybacking attacks both lead to unauthorized access, but they differ in their approach. Tailgating often happens unintentionally when an authorized person unknowingly allows an intruder to follow them into a secure area. It's usually a result of oversight in busy settings. In contrast, piggybacking is a deliberate action where the intruder intentionally follows someone with access to breach security. This method involves more planning as the intruder waits for an opportunity, like someone opening a secure door, and then quickly follows before the door shuts. Both pose security risks by enabling unauthorized access to protected areas.

How Does Tailgating Work

Tailgating is a simple method where an intruder quietly follows an authorized person through a secure entry point, like a door requiring a keycard. The intruder takes advantage of the moment when the door is open, slipping in unnoticed behind someone who is authorized to enter. This technique is effective because people often don't challenge or even notice someone walking closely behind them, especially in busy areas where attention is divided. Tailgating relies on timing and the intruder’s ability to blend in without drawing attention, making it a common yet concerning security issue.

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Dangers of Tailgating

Tailgating poses serious risks by allowing unauthorized access to secure areas, leading to various dangers, such as data breaches, where sensitive company or customer information can be compromised. It also increases the risk of theft of valuable physical and intellectual property. Furthermore, the presence of unauthorized individuals in restricted areas compromises workplace safety and can have broader implications like damaging the company's reputation and employee trust. Thus, tailgating represents a significant security threat with potentially wide-ranging consequences for any organization.

Who’s at Risk of Tailgating Attacks?

Organizations with physical security controls, like keycard-protected areas, are at risk of tailgating attacks, especially if they lack strict access enforcement or employee awareness. This risk is higher in places with frequent foot traffic, such as large offices or public institutions, and also in smaller businesses where security measures may not be as comprehensive. The vulnerability increases when employees are not well-trained in security protocols, allowing unauthorized individuals easier access following authorized personnel. Essentially, any workplace with controlled entry points can be susceptible to tailgating if security practices and awareness are not adequately maintained.

Factors That Make an Enterprise Susceptible to Cybersecurity Threats

A security guard monitors an office entrance, illustrating proactive measures against threats that make enterprises vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches.

Absence of Effective Employee Training

Without proper training, employees may not recognize or respond effectively to security breaches like tailgating. Inadequate training can also lead to a lack of vigilance and awareness among staff, further increasing the risk of security incidents. Moreover, employees untrained in cybersecurity best practices might inadvertently contribute to vulnerabilities, such as by using weak passwords or falling prey to phishing attacks.

Lack of Physical Security Measures

Inadequate security at entry points, like unmonitored doors or gates, allows unauthorized individuals to easily tailgate authorized personnel into secure areas. The absence of surveillance systems, electronic entry controls, or security personnel at these points exacerbates the risk. Regularly updating and testing security infrastructure is crucial to prevent such unauthorized access.

Poorly Managed Access Credentials

When ID badges, key cards, or access codes are poorly managed, it poses a significant security risk. If these credentials are not carefully issued, tracked, and deactivated when necessary, they can be misused by unauthorized individuals. Regular audits, strict policies against sharing credentials, and prompt actions for lost or stolen badges are key to maintaining secure access control.

Why Tailgating Happens

Tailgating typically happens when employees aren't fully aware of security procedures or in workplaces where people hesitate to challenge unfamiliar followers to avoid seeming impolite. In large organizations, it's easier for unauthorized individuals to go unnoticed as not everyone knows each other. Busy work environments also contribute to the problem, with people distracted by their tasks and less attentive to security, like ensuring doors close properly behind them. This mix of insufficient security awareness, a culture of politeness, and distraction creates an environment where tailgating can occur, compromising workplace security.

Who is Most Vulnerable to Tailgating Attacks?

Organizations most vulnerable to tailgating attacks are those with relaxed security measures and high foot traffic, like large offices, public buildings, and educational or healthcare facilities. In these settings, it's easier for unauthorized people to blend in and follow authorized personnel unnoticed. Companies where employees are less vigilant about security, such as not ensuring doors are securely closed or not checking if followers have proper access, face a higher risk. The regular presence of visitors, contractors, or temporary staff further increases vulnerability, as it becomes challenging to monitor who is authorized to be in specific areas. These organizations need stronger security protocols and employee training to effectively reduce the risk of tailgating attacks.

How to Prevent Tailgating

Close-up of a fingerprint scanner glowing in blue light, symbolizing biometric technology used to prevent tailgating in secure areas.

Biometric Scanners

Biometric scanners enhance security by using unique biological characteristics, such as fingerprints or iris patterns, to verify identity, ensuring that only authorized personnel can access sensitive areas. This method significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access due to lost or stolen credentials.

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance systems serve as both a deterrent to potential intruders and a tool for security teams to monitor activities and identify unauthorized individuals attempting to gain access. The presence of cameras can discourage would-be tailgaters and provide valuable evidence in the event of a security breach.

Electronic Access Control

Electronic access control systems offer a sophisticated means of securing entry points, utilizing technology to authenticate individuals before granting access. These systems can be programmed with varying levels of security clearance, tailoring access rights to specific groups or individuals.

Badge Reader

Badge readers verify the credentials of individuals attempting to enter secure areas, ensuring that only those with authorized badges can gain entry. This system is effective in managing access within multi-level organizations, where access needs may vary.


Turnstiles are physical barriers designed to allow one person to pass at a time, effectively preventing tailgating by requiring each entrant to be authenticated. They are commonly used in environments requiring a high level of security, such as corporate buildings or data centers.


Camio is a tool that combines video monitoring with advanced analytics to enhance access control measures. By analyzing video footage in real time, it can identify and alert security personnel to unauthorized access attempts or suspicious behavior.

Access Control Management

Access control management involves the comprehensive oversight of all components of an access control system, including hardware and software, to ensure they function effectively and efficiently prevent unauthorized entries. Regular audits and updates are essential for maintaining security integrity.

Rack Occupancy Sensors

Rack occupancy sensors are designed to detect and alert security personnel when unauthorized access to server racks or sensitive equipment cabinets occurs. These sensors add an extra layer of security for critical data and hardware assets.

Open-Path Video Reader

The open-path video reader technology integrates video surveillance with access control, enabling real-time visual verification of individuals as they enter secured areas. This integration enhances the ability to detect and respond to unauthorized access attempts quickly.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers, such as gates, bollards, or mantraps, provide a tangible layer of security designed to physically prevent unauthorized entry or tailgating into secure premises. These barriers are essential in high-security areas where controlling access is critical.

The Role of Policy and Culture in Preventing Tailgating

Developing and Implementing Security Policies

Developing and implementing clear security policies is fundamental to tailgating prevention, establishing guidelines that define authorized access and the procedures for managing visitors. By setting and enforcing these policies, organizations can create a secure environment that minimizes the risk of unauthorized entry, ensuring that all individuals on the premises have legitimate reasons to be there.

Fostering a Security-Conscious Workplace Culture

Fostering a security-conscious workplace culture where every employee understands and takes responsibility for the security of the premises can significantly reduce the risk of tailgating. Encouraging staff to challenge unknown individuals or those without proper access credentials fosters an environment where security is a shared responsibility, enhancing overall protection.

Integrating Physical and Digital Security Measures

The Importance of Unified Security Protocols

Unified security protocols are essential in ensuring that physical and digital security systems operate in harmony, providing a comprehensive security posture that addresses all potential vulnerabilities. This unified approach ensures that security measures are not siloed but instead work together to protect against a wide range of threats, including tailgating.

Best Practices for Integrating Security Systems

Best practices for integrating security systems include linking physical access control mechanisms with IT security systems to create a layered defense strategy. This integration enables real-time monitoring and management of security threats, providing a holistic view of the organization’s security stance and ensuring that any breaches, physical or digital, are quickly identified and addressed.

Advanced Technologies in Combating Tailgating

AI and Machine Learning in Security Monitoring

Leveraging AI and machine learning in security monitoring systems significantly enhances the ability to detect unusual patterns or behaviors that may indicate a tailgating incident. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data from surveillance cameras and access control systems to identify potential security breaches, allowing for rapid response to threats.

Tailgating and Compliance

Understanding Relevant Compliance Requirements

Understanding and adhering to compliance requirements related to physical security is crucial for businesses to ensure they meet legal and regulatory standards. Awareness of these requirements helps organizations implement appropriate security measures, including tailgating prevention strategies, to protect sensitive information and assets.

Tailgating Prevention in Compliance Context

Implementing effective tailgating prevention measures is often a critical component of meeting compliance requirements, demonstrating an organization's commitment to maintaining a secure environment. These measures not only protect against unauthorized access but also ensure that businesses comply with regulations that dictate physical security practices, thereby avoiding potential legal and financial penalties.

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At RedZone Technologies, we understand the importance of keeping your business secure. Tailgating attacks are a real threat, where unauthorized people slip into places they shouldn't be. Our team is here to strengthen your defenses, both physical and digital. We offer personalized solutions to protect you from these risks. With RedZone Technologies, you're not just safe; you're part of a family dedicated to security.