How to Prevent Tailgating at Work


Be it cyber or physical security, all risks must be properly mitigated to reduce the threat of an external or internal threat successfully infiltrating the network. Far too often key decision makers are aware of security vulnerabilities but lack the follow-up action to proactively close those security gaps. This is exactly the case for tailgating.

what is tailgating

What is Tailgating?

According to Carnegie Mellon University, tailgating is one of the most common forms of social engineering attacks used when trying to breach a physical space. Unfortunately, you have likely even been a participant in this action without even giving it a second thought.

Tailgating is when an unauthorized individual follows a person who has heightened security credentials into a controlled area. Not always is this a security breach in the works. Tailgating can occur at any facility that requires a fob or proximity card for entry. For example, letting the UPS delivery person into the building, or unknowingly letting individuals into a gym who is not actually a member.

Why Is Tailgating a Problem?

The examples outlined above are pretty harmless, because not every tailgating activity is entirely malicious. However, there are certainly instances where tailgating does pose a serious risk to employee safety and company security as a whole.

Consider a previous employee who is trying to gain access to a controlled environment to gather proprietary data from the organization. They are a familiar face and maybe not everyone is aware of the employment termination and they unwittingly allow them entry. Or consider an external third party, portraying the internet company, who follows a staff member into the building with plans to hack the network. The threat is very much real, and organizations must take the steps necessary to reduce their exposure.

Top Tailgating Prevention Tips

In order to stop tailgaters from gaining access to your controlled environments, review the top five tips you should be implementing in your business environment to thwart these forms of attacks.


Conduct a Security Audit

First and foremost, conduct an audit. In order to close security gaps, you first must understand what the gaps are, as well as where and why they exist. By completing a security audit, you will gain insight into these factors as well as receive feedback from individuals who work specifically in these areas for ideas on how to mitigate the risks.

Use Your Data

Knowing what to do and where to do it is only half of the battle. Now it is time to move into the implementation phase. Once you have completed the audit, use the information to make changes within the organization. This may be increasing tailgating security in high-traffic areas of the business, like initial entry points or lobbies.

Employee Training

Oftentimes, employees are not aware of the magnitude of issues that may arise due to security breaches. By educating them, the risk of the behavior continuing is reduced. For example, when employees are trained on how to spot phishing emails, and the potential severity of the situation, had they fallen for the spoofed email, they are more cautious and look for red flags. The same is true for employee training regarding tailgating. It is in our human nature to hold the door open for someone that has their hands full, not ask for their credentials before allowing them to pass. However, when employees are educated on the risk this could potentially pose, the behavior will likely be reduced, and they will be more cautious about whom they allow entering into a controlled area.

Proactive Access Control

According to Security Magazine, 71% of survey respondents believed they were at risk of tailgating. Meaning, that 71% of surveyors see tailgating as a security threat they are vulnerable to. Yet, 74% of respondents stated they are not monitoring these security threats whatsoever. The issue is, that awareness is not leading to proactive decisions to block the attack before it happens.

When choosing the access control solution to secure your physical space, ensure it includes real-time tailgate monitoring. Do not wait until your organization has fallen victim to a security breach as a result of a tailgating instance before you take action. Be proactive.

Top Takeaways

Tailgating is a common physical security hole; however, that does not mean that organizations are taking a proactive role in blocking this threat before it becomes a bigger problem. Additionally, it does not mean that all employees are aware of the risk they are putting themselves, and the company is when they are unwittingly participating in tailgating activities.

To best protect your organization, a security audit should be completed to identify access points where tailgating would be more likely to occur, as well as areas where tailgating would create a significant security issue if a malicious tailgater were to gain access. From there, create an executable plan to reduce the risk. Additionally, educate your staff on the threats tailgaters may pose to not only their safety, but the security of the organization as a whole. Finally, implement a proactive access control solution that includes tailgate monitoring.

By using these tips to reduce the number of times tailgating takes place, you will create a safer environment for the employees that work there, as well as any third-party individuals accessing the building.