What Is Tailgating in Security, and How Can It Impact Your Business?


Apr 8, 2024

What Is Tailgating in Security, and How Can It Impact Your Business?

Representing one of the most urgent threats to both physical and cybersecurity, tailgating is a reason for concern for any business with data to protect. Yet for all the dangers it poses, tailgating is often little understood, and poorly protected against. So, what is tailgating in security, exactly, and why does it matter to the bottom line of your business?

> In need of better security solutions? Learn about the benefits of app-based, AI-powered tailgating detection here

What Is Tailgating in Security, and Why Does It Matter?

What is tailgating? In terms of physical security, tailgating describes a security breach in which an intruder enters a secured area by directly following a person with authorized access. An employee uses a badge to open a door, for example, and then holds it open for someone else to pass through, without necessarily knowing who that person is, or what level of access they may have.

What’s the difference between tailgating and piggybacking?

What’s the difference between tailgating and piggybacking? Piggybacking is an intrusion that happens with the help of an insider, while tailgating occurs without the knowledge of the person being followed. With tailgating, intruders depend on the negligence or common courtesy of an employee to get them in, rather than their consent and active participation.

Both piggybacking and tailgating can be carried out by former employees or those familiar with the company — or with a motive to act against it — as well as by independent agents working for ransom or a larger criminal network.

What are the consequences of tailgating in security?

Once they're inside your facility, intruders can steal or erase sensitive data, or damage the infrastructure that stores it. They can install cameras to commit espionage by monitoring sensitive areas and operations. They can install spyware or unleash malware throughout an entire organization, or set up an undetectable “backdoor” to a company’s network. In extreme cases, they can even behave violently toward employees.

All this can have a number of disastrous consequences. If data is stolen, victims may have to pay an expensive ransom for its return, and could be hit with increasingly strict fines for failing to protect the data under their care. They may also end up having to settle lawsuits from compromised customers or injured employees,

In addition, businesses may have to repair costly equipment after a successful tailgating breach, or invest more funds into compromised physical security components. Perhaps most damaging of all, the theft of operational secrets — and the reputational damage of experiencing a data loss — could lead to an exodus of existing customers and reluctance for new ones to sign up. Businesses could lose significant revenue and market share, putting their very existence at risk.

How does tailgating affect cybersecurity?

Because of the risk to data as well as physical assets and safety, tailgating — though technically a breach of physical security — should also be treated as a key factor in maintaining proper cybersecurity. And that broadens the scope of data security significantly, adding an entirely new layer of challenges (and even more so for large, enterprise-level organizations with many facilities to manage).

For this reason, and because data security is taken more and more seriously each year, investing in protections against tailgating is now widely considered a necessity for any successful cybersecurity strategy.

What businesses are most at risk of a tailgating breach?

With their sizable cash flow, enormous banks of customer data, and multiple points of access, larger companies pose a lucrative target for tailgating attempts. Facilities with multiple tenants, where employees from one company may not know those working for another, are also at higher risk, as are businesses that work with a large number of on-site vendors or contractors.  

At the same time, smaller and mid-size businesses are also more vulnerable to tailgating attempts than larger companies with more robust (and well financed) security. And it’s important to remember that not all breaches are external. Tailgating can involve internal breaches, too — say, someone gaining unauthorized access to a data center or server room.

Tackle Tailgating in Security with Dragonfruit AI

Join us for part 2 in our tailgating in security series, where we discuss specific examples of tailgating to look out for, as well as some action items for preventing this increasingly common security concern in the facilities you manage.

You can also discover how our computer vision-powered video AI technology can help you prevent tailgating today: Learn more about our AI-driven tailgating alarm system here, or contact us today to get a quote.

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