Tailgating in Cyber Security: What You Need to Know


As we stay vigilant against online threats like phishing and cyberattacks, it’s also important not to overlook physical security risks. One such risk is tailgating, where unauthorized individuals gain access to restricted areas by following employees. Companies are investing in tailgating detection systems to address this issue, with the market expected to grow. Understand what tailgating is in cybersecurity, how it occurs, and ways to prevent it.

Understanding Tailgating in Cybersecurity

A tailgating attack is a type of social engineering attack where someone who is not authorized manages to get past a company’s security system to physically access, steal, or mess with its data. These attackers often trick an authorized person into letting them into a password-protected area, giving them access to sensitive information.

Also known as piggybacking, tailgating attacks occur when an unauthorized person follows an authorized person into secure areas. This happens because the security is not careful enough, allowing the follower to take advantage of the situation.

How Tailgating Attacks Happen

To better understand the meaning of tailgating attacks, you need to know how it happen. Generally, these attacks can happen in sneaky ways that don’t raise suspicion. For example, an attacker could pretend to be a delivery person or a repairman, asking an employee to let them into a restricted area because their hands are full and they can’t use any biometric protocols. The employee might do it to be helpful, but it lets the attacker in. It could also be as simple as someone following closely behind an employee without them realizing it, essentially tailgating them.

Common tailgating methods include:

  • Pretending to be an employee who forgot their ID to get access
  • Following someone closely into a secure area and expecting them to hold the door open for you to follow
  • Service providers or delivery people asking to get into authorized spaces

In a virtual or online setting, tailgating can happen when someone unauthorized uses the login details of an authorized user to access a network or system. This can be done by watching someone’s login credentials, tricking someone into giving them their details or using special tools to copy and reuse login sessions.

Other Examples of Tailgating in Cyber Security

To understand the tailgating threat better, let’s look at some real-life examples:

Physical Tailgating in Offices

Picture this: An attacker pretends to be a delivery person or a contractor and waits near the entrance of a secure office. When an employee swipes their card to get in, the attacker sneaks in right behind them before the door closes, getting into the office without permission.

Virtual Tailgating in Remote Work

With more people working from home, virtual tailgating is a risk. It happens when someone unauthorized gets into an employee’s remote desktop or VPN connection. By stealing and using the employee’s login details, the attacker can get around security and access important data or networks.

Wireless Network Tailgating

Even wireless networks can be vulnerable to tailgating. An attacker might position themselves close to a secure wireless network and try to get in by stealing and reusing valid credentials or exploiting weak security measures.

Factors That Make an Organization Vulnerable to Cybersecurity Threats

Without the right cybersecurity measures, any organization can be at risk of cyberattacks that could expose confidential data. Here are some ways your organization could be at risk, including the danger of tailgating:

  • Outdated Threat Protection Software: Not having up-to-date threat protection software means your organization might not be able to spot and stop tailgating activities, which can leave you open to security breaches. Having a good threat detection system can help reduce the risk of tailgating.
  • Ineffective Cybersecurity Practices: Every organization should regularly check for cybercrimes or security breaches and deal with them quickly to prevent further damage.
  • Lack of Employee Training: Regular security training for employees is crucial. To keep the organization safe, they need to understand security protocols and the consequences of not following them.

The Risks of Tailgating Attacks

Tailgating attacks can cause big problems for organizations, like:

Data Theft and Spying

Attackers can steal important data, like trade secrets or customer information, by sneaking into secure networks. This can lead to big financial losses and damage to a company’s reputation.

Disruption of Operations

Bad actors who get past security through tailgating can mess up important operations, break things, or install harmful software on systems, which can lead to downtime and money loss.

Physical Threats

When unauthorized people get into secure places, they can be a danger to others, steal stuff, or damage things. This can be a big problem for keeping people safe and protecting important infrastructure.

Breaking the Rules and Laws

Many industries have strict rules about security and privacy. Tailgating can lead to breaking these rules, which can be expensive and lead to legal trouble.

Tailgating Security Awareness: Prevention Tips & Strategies

To stop tailgating attacks, you need to use a mix of methods that focus on physical security, technology, and keeping employees informed. Here are some effective ways to reduce the risks of tailgating:

Access Control Management

Implementing a robust access control system is crucial. It forms the foundation of security protocols, allowing only authorized personnel to enter secure areas.

Badge Readers

Badge readers play a critical role in preventing unauthorized access. They require employees to scan their badges or cards, thereby verifying their identity before allowing entry.

Physical Security Measures

Use strong physical security tools like turnstiles, man-traps, or access card readers that need individual verification. It’s also a good idea to have security staff watch entry points to stop unauthorized people.

Employee Education

Regularly teach employees why it’s important not to let unauthorized people in and to report any suspicious behavior. Encourage a culture where everyone takes security seriously.

Video Surveillance

Install video surveillance with smart features that can spot and alert security to possible tailgating. Connecting surveillance with access control systems can give a better view of what’s happening and speed up responses.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Use MFA for remote access and important systems. This makes it harder for attackers to get in with stolen or fake credentials.

Camio Security Cameras

Integrating Camio security cameras provides real-time monitoring of areas prone to suspicious activities, enabling security teams to respond promptly to potential threats.

Rack Occupancy Sensors

Rack occupancy sensors help maintain security by detecting any unauthorized presence in restricted areas and triggering alerts for immediate action.

Network Protection

Segment your network and use monitoring tools to catch and stop unauthorized access attempts. Regularly check access logs and audit trails for anything suspicious.

Response Planning

Have a plan ready for dealing with tailgating incidents, and practice it regularly. A good plan can limit the damage and help you recover quickly if an attack succeeds.

Overcome Any Types of Tailgating Attacks Successfully!

Preventing tailgating in cybersecurity is crucial for maintaining organizations’ security. By implementing a combination of electronic access control, badge readers, turnstiles, security cameras, and other measures, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. It’s also important to regularly train employees on security protocols and ensure they understand the risks of tailgating. With these measures in place, organizations can better protect their sensitive data and assets from cyber threats.

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