Though we take preventive measures when we work online and safeguard ourselves from phishing and cyberattacks, it’s equally important to ensure we don’t overlook the physical aspects of security breaches. One such that has become rather common is tailgating. A common type of security threat to organizations, tailgating offers ways for hackers, thieves, and unsavory characters to physically access restricted areas, by targeting unsuspecting employees. In fact, companies are already taking steps to protect themselves against this. According to a report generated by Globe NewsWire, the tailgating detection system market is expected to skyrocket from $63.5 million in 2021 to $99.5 million by 2028. In this article, we cover everything that you need to know about tailgating in cybersecurity, what it is, how it works, and steps you can take to protect against it.
What is Tailgating in Cybersecurity?
Tailgating is a form of a social engineering attack where an unauthorized individual breaches a company’s security system to physically access, steal, or compromise its data. These individuals usually convince an authorized person to allow them entry into a password-protected area and gain access to sensitive information.
According to TechTarget, it is also referred to as piggybacking, where the unauthorized party follows an authorized one into secure areas of a company. The security leaves itself open to being exploited through the ingenuity of the follower and carelessness of the followed.
How Does Tailgating Work
Tailgating can occur in nuanced ways that do not arouse suspicion. A tailgating attack can occur in the most banal way. For example, it could be in the form of someone in disguise, either pretending to be a delivery person or repairman. They could then ask an employee to give them access to a restricted, authorized-personnel-only area. Their excuse for ‘help’ could be that their hands are full (and hence are unable to adhere to any biometric protocol in place at the point of entry). The unsuspecting party complies and the unauthorized person has found a way in. Alternatively, it could even be something as simple as the unauthorized person following closely behind an employee without their knowledge—essentially tailgating them.
Some of the most common ways of a tailgating attack include:
- A person pretending to be an employee and claiming that they have forgotten their ID so that you can grant them access
- Someone walking behind you into a secure area and expecting you to keep the door open for them to enter right after you
- Service providers, delivery persons, or painters who request access to authorized spaces
Now that you have understood how tailgating works, let’s look at factors that can make an organization susceptible to cybersecurity threats.
Factors That Make an Enterprise Susceptible to Cybersecurity Threats
Without proper cybersecurity measures in place, any organization is vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can compromise confidential data. Here’s how your enterprise can be liable to cybersecurity threats, including the very real risk of tailgating:
Not Having an Updated Threat Protection Software
Advanced and updated threat protection software helps an organization in identifying and resolving tailgating activities. Without this software in place, companies leave themselves vulnerable to security breaches. With a threat detection mechanism in place, organizations can successfully minimize chances of tailgating.
Ineffective Cybersecurity Prevention Practices
Every organization must have a cybersecurity assessment mechanism to detect cybercrimes or security breaches and tackle them in real time.
Absence of Effective Employee Training
Every organization must conduct training sessions on security protocols from time to time to ensure employers are thoroughly trained and understand the consequences of security breaches.
Tailgating Attacks vs. Piggybacking Attacks
While the objective of tailgating and piggybacking is essentially the same, there is a key difference between them.
Tailgating in cybersecurity refers to social engineering attacks where an unauthorized person looks to gain access from an unaware individual. Piggybacking attacks are coordinated in nature, where an authorized entity provides access to an unauthorized individual in a secure environment. Tailgating requires no consent while piggybacking requires the consent of an authorized person.
What are the Effects of Tailgating?
Tailgating is a significant security breach event where unauthorized personnel can break into a company’s database or cause damage that has huge consequences. Let’s look at the potential harm of tailgating:
- Tailgaters can initiate access to the server room and establish a back door into the company’s network
- They can have access to an organization’s sensitive customers’ data and company funds or secrets
- They can install cameras in certain areas to monitor the activities going on in restricted areas and gather important information
Who is Most Vulnerable to Tailgating Attacks?
Companies with an inefficient and weak security system are most vulnerable to tailgating attacks. In fact, they have loopholes in their security mechanism, which include:
- Companies with employees moving in and out of the premises without ID checks make it harder to track the attacker
- Companies where employees have not received robust training in security protocols and cybersecurity measures
- Companies that allow delivery persons or packages from outsiders inside the premises without conducting proper checks
- Companies that work with several subcontractors
How to Prevent Tailgating
Now that we’ve got a better understanding of what tailgating in cybersecurity entails, it’s important to look at ways in which it can be prevented.
1. Electronic Access Control
Electronic access control devices will ensure that only employees with access can enter secure premises.
2. Badge Reader
These devices scan company badges or cards, preventing unauthorized persons from entering. By using badge readers at entry and exit points, employers can ensure that sensitive perimeters and devices are protected.
Having turnstiles on company premises will ensure that only one person at a time is allowed inside the office premise. It restricts tailgaters from entering behind an authorized person inside the building or office premises.
In order to keep an eye on areas susceptible to suspicious activity, security cameras called Camio can be installed for added protection. This is an intelligent video monitoring system that informs security teams about any alarming activity in real time.
5. Access Control Management
Access control is the foremost step in ensuring thorough security protocols, as it allows only authorized personnel to enter secure perimeters.
6. Rack Occupancy Sensors
Rack occupancy sensors are used to detect the number of people available in a space. If the sensor detects more than the expected number, it gets triggered and requires immediate action.
7. Open-Path Video Reader
Enterprises can install open-path video readers, which perform a video verification to ensure an authorized person is entering a secure perimeter.
8. Physical Barriers
Physical barriers are a spot-on, effective way to mitigate tailgating activities. Add physical barriers before the secure perimeter, and you can prevent unauthorized people from entering. High tech is great but sometimes, going old school also has its benefits.
9. Additional Measures
While the above methods are proven ways to mitigate security breaches from occurring, surveillance cameras must be installed throughout the premises. It is also imperative that employees understand the seriousness of tailgating and the potential risks of a security breach for a company.
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By Melanie Das
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