What Is Tailgating In Cybersecurity? Meaning and Effects of Tailgating

What Is Tailgating In Cybersecurity?
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When it comes to risks in cybersecurity, there are many options to consider. Examples are password theft, traffic interceptions, phishing attacks, SQL injection, and many more. Among these various risks lies a very deadly one. You might not notice the risk easily because it sneaks. This risk is called Tailgating.

The very nature of this risk is that it sneaks up on you. #SneakAttack

What is Tailgating In Cybersecurity?

Just like that!

Apart from such threats in cybersecurity, they happen in real life when unsuspecting employees are targeted by thieves to gain physical access to restricted areas of important places.

In the same vein, tailgating happens in cybersecurity.

How Does Tailgating Work?

Imagine if you have a key card to enter a building, and you swipe your card to open the door.

Tailgating would occur if someone else, who doesn’t have a key card, quickly follows you through the door before it closes.

This person is taking advantage of your authorized access to get into the secure area without going through the proper security measures.

Tailgating is a security risk because it allows unauthorized individuals to enter restricted areas, potentially compromising the safety and confidentiality of the information or assets within.

Now you understand the whole idea behind tailgating. Let’s look at what it represents in cybersecurity.

What is Tailgating in Cybersecurity?

In cybersecurity, tailgating can also be referred to as “piggybacking.”

Tailgating constitutes a type of social engineering attack wherein an individual, without authorization, infiltrates a company’s security system.

The aim is to gain physical access to, steal, or compromise its data.

This is achieved by closely following an authorized person without undergoing the prescribed identity verification or access control processes.

This social engineering strategy takes advantage of the trust that an authorized person’s legitimate access has built.

Then, circumventing security protocols and potentially compromising the integrity of sensitive environments, information, or systems

Factors That Make an Enterprise Susceptible to Cybersecurity Threats

Several factors can make an enterprise susceptible to cybersecurity threats.

Understanding these factors is crucial for organizations to enhance their security posture.

Here are some key factors:

1. Lack of Employee Awareness and Training

Some enterprises do not train employees adequately on cybersecurity best practices and potential threats.

They may inadvertently engage in risky behaviors, such as clicking on phishing emails or using weak passwords.

2. Outdated Software and Systems

Using old or unpatched software can create vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.

Regular updates and patches are like installing security reinforcements to protect against known weaknesses.

3. Insufficient Access Controls

When there are lax controls on who can access sensitive information or systems, it increases the risk of unauthorized access.

Implementing strict access controls ensures that only authorized personnel can access critical data.

4. Inadequate Security Policies

Without clear and comprehensive security policies in place, employees may not know how to handle sensitive information or use company systems securely.

Well-defined policies help set expectations and guidelines for secure practices.

5. Poor Password Practices

Encouraging strong, unique passwords and implementing multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection.

Attackers can take advantage of weak passwords or the use of the same password across multiple accounts.

6. Lack of Regular Security Audits

Conducting security audits helps identify and address potential weaknesses before they can be exploited.

Without regular assessments of the IT infrastructure, vulnerabilities may go unnoticed.

7. Limited Data Encryption

If sensitive data is transmitted or stored without encryption, it’s more susceptible to interception.

Encryption transforms data into unreadable formats, enhancing its protection, especially during transmission.

8. Dependency on Third-Party Vendors

Relying on external vendors for services or software without assessing their security measures can introduce vulnerabilities.

Ensuring that third-party partners uphold robust security practices is crucial for overall enterprise security.

9. Inadequate Incident Response Plan:

A clear and practiced response plan is essential for effective incident management.

Without a well-defined plan for responding to cybersecurity incidents, the organization may struggle to contain and mitigate the impact of a security breach promptly.

10. Lack of Regular Security Awareness Training

Cyber threats evolve, and employees need ongoing education to stay informed about new risks and attack methods.

Regular security awareness training keeps the workforce vigilant and proactive in the face of emerging threats.

Addressing these factors requires a holistic approach, combining technological solutions with employee training.

Clear policies and regular assessments are needed to create a robust cybersecurity posture for the enterprise.

What are the Effects of Tailgating?

how to prevent tailgating
how to prevent tailgating

Here are five key effects of tailgating:

1. Unauthorized Access

Tailgating results in individuals gaining entry into secured areas without proper authentication, leading to unauthorized physical access.

2. Data Compromise

Once inside, tailgaters may access and steal sensitive data, potentially leading to data breaches and the compromise of confidential information.

3. Operational Disruption

Tailgating can disrupt normal business operations, causing downtime and financial losses, especially if unauthorized individuals tamper with systems or equipment.

4. Reputational Damage

Security breaches from tailgating can damage an organization’s reputation, eroding trust among stakeholders and customers due to perceived lapses in security.

Tailgating incidents can result in legal and regulatory consequences, including fines and lawsuits.

Especially if the breach involves the compromise of personally identifiable information or violates industry regulations.

How to Prevent Tailgating

Preventing tailgating requires a combination of physical security measures, technology, and employee awareness.

Here are key strategies to prevent tailgating:

1. Implement Access Control Systems

Utilize access control systems such as key cards, biometric scanners, or proximity cards to restrict entry to authorized personnel.

These systems help ensure that only individuals with the proper credentials can enter secure areas.

2. Deploy Turnstiles or Security Gates

Install turnstiles or security gates at entry points to control the flow of people.

These physical barriers can be configured to allow only one person to pass at a time, reducing the risk of unauthorized individuals following closely behind an authorized person.

3. Security Personnel and Vigilance

Trained guards can visually verify the identity of individuals and enforce access control policies. Regular patrols can also deter unauthorized access.

Employ security personnel to monitor access points.

4. Employee Training and Awareness

Encourage a culture of vigilance and emphasize the responsibility of all employees to maintain security.

Conduct regular security awareness training for employees to educate them about the risks of tailgating and the importance of following security protocols.

5. Two-factor authentication (2FA)

Implement two-factor authentication for access to sensitive areas.

This adds an additional layer of security by requiring users to provide two forms of identification, such as a key card and a PIN, before gaining entry.

6. Visitor Management Systems

Implement visitor management systems to track and control the entry of guests.

Visitors should be issued temporary credentials and closely monitored during their time in the facility.

7. Use Security Cameras

Install surveillance cameras at entry points to monitor and record activity.

In addition to serving as a deterrent, cameras can provide evidence in case of security incidents and aid in investigations.

8. Mantrap Systems

A mantrap is an enclosed security vestibule with two sets of interlocking doors.

Only one door opens at a time, ensuring that only one person can enter or exit.

Implement mantrap systems in high-security areas.

9. Regular Security Audits

Regular reviews help ensure that security protocols are up-to-date and aligned with the evolving threat landscape.

Conduct regular security audits to assess the effectiveness of existing measures and identify potential vulnerabilities.

10. Employee Accountability

Encourage employees to politely question unfamiliar individuals and report any suspicious activity.

Foster a sense of responsibility among employees to challenge or report individuals who attempt to tailgate.

By combining these measures, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of tailgating and enhance overall security.

A comprehensive approach involves a combination of technology, physical barriers, and a security-aware culture within the organization.


Tailgating in cybersecurity squanders efforts to protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.

One can blame the success of tailgating on the nonchalance of enterprises to such occurrences. To combat this, there must be keen attention to prevent such piggybacking and hitchriding.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

There’s no denying that humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity.

No matter how effective your technical defenses, such as firewalls, IPS, or IDS, are, a determined attacker can always get around them if they can find a way to trick or force a member of your staff into giving them access.

What is an example of a tailgating attack?

Tailgating can occur in both physical and virtual settings, with the end goal of stealing sensitive information.

Common examples include following someone through a door without using a key or authentication; sending emails pretending to be from legitimate sources and asking for confidential information; etc.

Why is it called a tailgate?

The name comes from the use of the tailgate at the back of a pickup truck to transport food and drinks to the event; however, many people participate in tailgate parties without actually using a truck with a tailgate.

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