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February 16, 2023

What is a Tailgating Attack and How to Prevent It

What is a Tailgating Attack and How to Prevent It

No matter how big or small your business is, cybersecurity must be taken seriously. In fact, attackers are increasingly taking advantage of the laxer security measures to attack small and medium sized businesses. One of the ways they do this is through ‘tailgating’ attacks.

Cybercrime enters the physical world through tailgating.

What is Tailgating?

Tailgating is a type of social engineering attack – simple to set up and extremely effective. Tailgating is basically where an attacker uses common human courtesy or carelessness to gain access to a secure area to steal data. For example, an employee uses their card to swipe into a building but is unknowingly followed in by someone else. Once the person has entered a restricted area, they can steal sensitive information, install malware on computers, and compromise user credentials.

Piggybacking is another term often used interchangeably with tailgating. The main difference lies in the fact that piggybacking involves the consent of an employee. For example, if an employee holds the door open out of politeness for a delivery person carrying a large package. This employee may have unwittingly let a hacker in. While this may sound like something out of a movie, this does happen more often than you may think. Studies report that 69 percent of cyber security professionals report that tailgating attacks are on the rise.

How to Prevent Tailgating Attacks?

Preventing tailgating attacks requires a multi-pronged approach that involves the latest in cybersecurity tech as well as cybersecurity training for your employees. Some preventive measures include:

Restricting Access with Biometrics

Biometric security systems are popularly used as a method to restrict entry. These systems work by recognizing an individual’s identity through characteristics like fingerprints, retina scans, and voice to name a few. These systems also usually keep logs of who entered a particular area and when. Adding cameras to the systems enhances their security.

You can also use smart badges and cards to secure entrance into restricted areas.


While biometrics and smart cards are a great way to restrict entry into sensitive areas, the systems can be made even more robust with smartly-implemented surveillance measures. AI systems have advanced enough to use facial recognition technology to scan the faces of people entering a building and compare them to a database of employees.

Additionally, having well-trained human guards at vulnerable places like lobbies or entrances can make a huge difference and even act as a deterrent.

Robust Cybersecurity

A computer left logged on while an employee has left to get a cup of coffee can be exactly the kind of opening a tailgater needs to breach your systems. Having robust cybersecurity measures in place like strong passwords, firewalls, and anti-virus software are all barriers to entry for unauthorized individuals.

Employee Training

As tailgating and piggybacking are forms of attack that rely on human carelessness or goodwill, it is important that your employees follow protocols to make sure that your systems are secure. The proper training can emphasize how real the threat of tailgating is along with measures to prevent such attacks including password protection, security hygiene while entering or leaving restricted areas and reporting suspected breaches.

If you are interested in end-user awareness training get in touch with our team and see how APEX 365 can help with your business.