Tailgating: Why it’s a Risk, and How to Prevent it

Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is a high risk security breach where an unauthorised person closely follows an authorised person into an access controlled area; but there are various ways to prevent it.


Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is a high risk security breach where an unauthorised person closely follows an authorised person into an access controlled area; but there are various ways to prevent it.

Tailgating is an easy way for unauthorised parties to gain access to a building or restricted zones within it. Security can become compromised when human carelessness comes into play in the part of the followed party, and ingenuity or opportunity taking on the part of the following party.

Security measures designed to prevent unauthorised access may be effective, but can fall down when, for example, an authorised member of staff holds the door open for an unknown person behind them out of a misguided sense of courtesy or habit. So, in being polite, the staff member unwittingly allows entry to someone who could potentially be a threat to the premises or the business.

How does tailgating work?

A common method of tailgating is someone simply following someone else through an open door, either by moving quickly through a slow closing door, or because the door is held open for them.

In other scenarios, intruders may disguise themselves as an authorised person to gain access, or as a delivery person who asks the employee in front of them to hold the door as they bring in a package.

Tailgating is a problem because people have a tendency to be courteous, and also to trust others. Most people will not automatically assume that the person behind them has unscrupulous intentions. It is particularly common in larger buildings where not everyone knows each other and may be unaware of who should be there, and who shouldn’t.

What are the risks of tailgating?

Tailgaters could be anyone from former disgruntled employees, to common thieves or vandals, or people with personal issues around the practices of the organisation. It has the potential to disrupt operations, cause damage to property and put occupants or visitors at risk.

Data, sensitive information, stock and equipment are all under threat, either from theft, or from cybercrime, for example where perpetrators gain access and insert spyware, malware or ransomware onto network servers and devices, putting them at risk of a data breach.

Some tailgaters will head for server rooms so that they can create a backdoor to the enterprise network, which can provide them or their counterparts the ability to remotely control devices and steal data, funds or company secrets. Others may install cameras to remotely monitor company operations and engage in corporate espionage. This is why it is so important to bridge the gap between physical and cyber security.

How to prevent tailgating?

There are a number of ways in which premises and the people within them can be protected from unauthorised access by preventing tailgating.

Ensure doors close swiftly and securely

Closing the time gap after the authorised person enters is one solution. Ensuring door closers are maintained is important so that they do their intended job.

Security revolving doors are designed to detect tailgating, as are interlock or air lock systems which are a double set of doors fitted with sensors to only allow access to one person at a time.

Use biometric scanners

Biometric security scanners and turnstiles allow only one person to enter at a time. They prevent tailgaters from walking with or directly behind an authorised person.

Biometrics, such as iris or fingerprint recognition, offer a higher level of security than access cards, fobs or entry codes, as the information is personal only to the authorised person and obviously cannot be shared or stolen.

Combine access control with CCTV

Access control authorises or limits entry to a building, whilst CCTV monitors potential security threats.

The two will often work independently, but they can operate together, pairing CCTV to control points where it can be used to verify identity via facial recognition and record who is entering.

Artificial intelligence can also be brought into the equation, allowing credentials to be automatically checked against recorded information, without the need for human intervention. It can also be used to automatically detect where someone enters a building too closely behind another.

Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multifactor authentication (MFA), where two or more sets of access credentials are required to enter a building or a restricted zone, is another solution that can effectively prevent unauthorised access.

Even if a tailgater manages to gain access to the building itself, MFA can make it more difficult for them to get into restricted areas.

Educate staff

It is vital to educate staff on how to recognise tailgating and its risks so that they do not unknowingly create opportunities for intruders to gain access.

Getting everyone onboard and creating a strong risk awareness culture is important, so that each member of staff feels they have a role to play in protecting the organisation.

Best practices should include the likes of never holding the door open for anyone; ensuring no one follows them into restricted zones; making sure doors are never left propped open; reporting malfunctioning security systems or slowly closing doors to facilities management; questioning or reporting anyone who is not wearing a security pass; reporting instances of tailgating, and never allowing former employees to access the premises unless they can prove they have permission.

Looking for anti-tailgating security solutions? Talk to Barry Bros Security.

Here at Barry Bros Security, we have been designing and installing a range of integrated security systems for several decades, many of which can be used to fight against the risky business of tailgating.

Every solution we design is tailored to the precise needs and risk level of each business, and any particular threats faced.

To learn more about how our experts can help protect your premises, you are welcome to get in touch, or visit us to discuss your individual requirements in person with a member of our team at our London showroom.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.