Tailgating Attack in Cyber Security, Detecting and Countering Invisible Threats

21 November 2023 9 minutes Author: Cyber Witcher

Strategies to protect against invisible attackers

Tailgating Attack, also known as “piggybacking“, is a social engineering technique used to gain illegal access to objects or data. Protection against tailgating requires both physical and behavioral security measures. It consists in the fact that an attacker enters a protected area by following someone who has authorized access. In this article, you will find a detailed description of what a Tailgating Attack is, its risks, and countermeasures. We discuss how attackers use social engineering to gain illegal access and what physical and behavioral measures can be taken to prevent such attacks. This information will help you better understand this type of threat and provide effective protection.


While it’s clear that cybersecurity teams spend most of their time identifying security risks in the digital environment, there are still real vulnerabilities that can affect data security and privacy. In other words, physical devices that contain sensitive data and information can also be attack vectors for cybercriminals.

Residual attacks are one such example of this type of vulnerability, which exists in both physical and virtual realms and usually has the ultimate goal of penetrating restricted areas (physical and virtual) to steal sensitive information, disrupt operations, or cause other types of harm.

But what exactly is a tailgating attack, and how can you prevent tailgating in your organization? Here we explore this complex topic, explain the difference between inhibition and support, and look at what inhibition is in cybersecurity. Read on to learn more and how to protect your organization.

What is a Tailgating Attack?

Current definitions of “covert access” include a security vulnerability where an unauthorized person follows an authorized person into a restricted access area without proper identification or clearance. This can occur in a physical environment, such as a building lobby or parking garage, or in a virtual environment, such as a secure network or computer system.

In physical terms, the answer to the question “what is tailgating” is relatively simple. Stalking occurs when a person follows an authorized person through a door or gate without stopping or being questioned by security. This can happen because an authorized person holds the door open for an unauthorized person or because security personnel do not verify the identity of the person entering the building. This can have serious repercussions as cybercriminals steal critical devices containing sensitive data or install malware on devices or servers and exploit them through backdoors.

However, when it comes to cybersecurity, there are several factors to consider. Abuse occurs when an unauthorized person gains access to a protected network or computer system by connecting to an authorized person. This can happen when an authorized person accidentally allows an unauthorized person to use their credentials on their computer or network, or when an unauthorized person can intercept an authorized person’s authentication information through a phishing attack.

How does tailgating work?

Often, manipulating our sense of decency involves giving would-be attackers access to restricted areas. Whether it’s opening doors for people carrying heavy loads or allowing unauthorized employees to use your computer, the truth is that your organization’s policy on providing physical or digital access to unauthorized employees should be strict and enforced. to all employees.

Abuse can cause harm in a variety of ways: violence, sabotage and industrial espionage; however, for the purposes of this article, we will focus on cybersecurity. Typically, this means that a secondary attack will aim to steal equipment (USB drives, SSDs, servers, laptops, and even PCs) that contain sensitive information that can be used against the company. In addition, the door may close when outside contractors are on site, leaving the door open for ventilation or other reasons.

Finally, the virtual loop, which includes techniques such as “phishing” and “vishing” among others, is an attack that uses digital means to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. This is similar to physical capture in that an attacker tries to gain access to a secure area, but instead of physically following someone through a door, the attacker uses digital means such as email, phone or social media to trick the victim into granting access.

Social engineering

Tailgating is considered a form of social engineering because it attempts to take advantage of human error to gain access to sensitive areas. Typically, an attacker can use a variety of methods to impersonate an authorized person, such as impersonating an employee, supplier, or contractor. In this way, an attacker can spy on an authorized person through a door or gate without using a key or proper authentication. The person being monitored, perhaps an employee or an authorized person, accidentally provides access to the attacker.

On a virtual level, social engineering is also used to gain access to user credentials without realizing they will be used maliciously. This can be achieved through social media or email sharing, or even phishing techniques that direct users to a malicious website.

Tailgating vs. Piggybacking

The terms are often used interchangeably to describe the same tactic. Stalking involves following someone through a door or gate without using a key or proper authentication. Outsourcing is a particular type of stalking in which the stalked person, who may be an employee or designee, inadvertently provides access to the stalker. The purpose of the queue and opposing railings is to prevent unauthorized access to the secure area. Both are used in social engineering and can pose a serious security threat.

An example of a Tailgating attack

There are many different scenarios in which a back-up can occur; however, perhaps the most common example of illegal intrusion is when an attacker follows an employee into a secured office building without using a key or proper authentication. The employee, unaware of the intruder’s intentions, holds the door open for the intruder, allowing them to enter the building.

Once inside, an attacker is free to move around the building and potentially gain access to sensitive information, steal assets, or cause other types of damage. In this example, an attacker might impersonate an employee, courier, or contractor to blend in and avoid suspicion.

Virtual examples of stalking might include an attacker sending an email to a company employee posing as a legitimate source, such as the IT department, and asking the employee to click on a link or provide sensitive information. The employee, believing the email to be legitimate, clicks on the link and enters their confidential information.

It is important to remember that attackers can do this in a variety of ways, and attackers can be very creative in their approach, but the goal is always to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information, financial assets, or other valuable resources.

Tailgating detection

Detecting illegal access to confidential resources can be difficult, as most cybercriminals limit the amount of time confidential resources are accessed to avoid detection. However, employee vigilance is important, and electronic IDs can play an important role in detecting backdoors. If you believe you have been the victim of an unauthorized attack, many of the precautions (such as surveillance cameras) below can help you identify the attacker and identify weaknesses in your security system.

How to Prevent Tailgating

As soon as you understand. What is tailgating and how does it work, there are many steps your organization can take to prevent it.

They include:

  • Install CCTV cameras: Place CCTV cameras at the entrance and exit to monitor the flow of people entering and exiting the building or security area.

  • Station Security Personnel: Station security personnel at the entrance to visually verify proper identification and observe the behavior of those entering the building.

  • Implement electronic access systems: Use electronic access systems such as key cards or biometric authentication to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to a building or secure area.

  • Use backdoor detection systems: Implement backdoor detection systems that use various technologies such as video analytics, motion sensors and RFID to detect and alert security personnel when an unauthorized person is stalking an authorized person.

  • Provide employee training: Provide employee training on how to recognize and report suspicious behavior and how to use proper safety precautions, such as keeping doors closed and locked and not leaving doors open to strangers.

  • Use safety signs: Post safety signs and notices in prominent locations to remind employees and visitors of the safety policies in place.

  • Use security barriers: Use security barriers, such as turnstiles or revolving doors, to control entry to the secure area.

  • Enforce security protocols: Employ strict security protocols for handling visitors or contractors and a proper verification process to verify an individual’s identity.

What to do if you have been robbed

If you suspect that you have been abducted or that an unauthorized person has gained access to a secure area by following you through a door or gate.

It is important to take immediate measures to protect the security of the building or area:

  • Report the incident: Report the incident to security staff, management or the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Provide a detailed description of the person, including clothing and physical characteristics.

  • Review CCTV footage: Review CCTV footage to confirm the incident and identify the person.

  • Change passwords: If you suspect that sensitive information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately.

  • Review access logs: Review access logs to see if an unauthorized person has accessed sensitive information or areas.

  • Notify other employees: Notify other employees of the incident so they can be alert for suspicious activity and report any further incidents.

  • Review and update safety protocols: Review and update safety protocols to ensure staff are fully trained in safety.

  • Conduct security audits: Conduct security audits and train your cybersecurity staff to identify any vulnerabilities that may have allowed an attacker to gain access and remediate them accordingly.


With countless cybersecurity threats now on the radar of cybersecurity teams, it’s sometimes easy to overlook what’s right in front of you! However, it is important to remember that walking can be a serious safety hazard. Therefore, it is important to act in a timely manner to minimize possible losses. To learn more about how you can ensure your organization is prepared for such an attack, contact us today and check out our blog to learn more about security.
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