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Definition

tailgating (piggybacking)

Tailgating, sometimes referred to as piggybacking, is a physical security breach in which an unauthorized person follows an authorized individual to enter a secured premise. 

Tailgating provides a simple social engineering-based way around many security mechanisms one would think of as secure. Even retina scanners don't help if an employee holds the door for an unknown person behind them, out of misguided courtesy.

People who might tailgate include disgruntled former employees, thieves, vandals, mischief makers people with issues with employees or the company. Any of these have the potential to disrupt business, cause damage, create unexpected costs and lead to further safety issues.

Methods to protect your premises from tailgating include:

  • Employee education.
  • Ensuring that doors close swiftly and securely.
  • Photo ID presented on entrance.
  • Video surveillance.
  • Smart cards housing multiple credentials.
  • Multifactor authentication.
  • Security guards.
  • Biometrics.
  • Photosensors, turnstiles, laser sensors or mantraps to limit entry to a single person at a time.

The presence of security measures can lead to a false sense of security, which can make people ignore simple and non-technical methods of subverting security. Although simple, tailgating can be very effective and educating employees to recognize and resist social engineering attempts is the single-most effective way to prevent it.

This was last updated in January 2017

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