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We write articles mainly about visitor management, which helps you to know who is (or has been) in your facility. It is just part of an organization’s physical security processes that protect people and property within and around a building or campus.



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"Tailgating" as a security breach, part II

by Andrew Jones

Tailgating occurs when an authorized occupant of a facility is followed by a non-authorized person into a restricted area or past a certain checkpoint.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a survey that was conducted last fall about “tailgating” and its impact on buyers and dealers of security entrances. As a follow-up, I thought it would be useful to summarize why tailgating poses a serious threat to your organization and what to do about it. My source is an article from, a web community that reports on facility management, written by Senior Editor Jennie Morton and used with permission.

What is “tailgating,” as it is used in a physical security context? Tailgating occurs when an authorized occupant of a facility is followed by a non-authorized person into a restricted area or past a certain checkpoint. Sometimes the tailgater is assisted willingly, such as by an employee who holds a locked door open through which people may follow, and sometimes he sneaks in, bypassing the reception desk or security station or posing as a uniformed vendor. Security guards would have no idea that the person bypassed a checkpoint.

Why is tailgating a problem? Think about why an individual would want to tailgate: so he doesn’t have to be documented and authorized. Perhaps the tailgater is an otherwise good person who is just in a hurry. What organization wants to make that assumption? Better to assume all tailgaters intend harm to your property and occupants, be they strangers or acquaintances, such as disgruntled clients or ex-employees. Note: tailgating can occur anywhere in a building. For example, even current employees, though authorized to be in your facility, may not be allowed access to internal areas that contain valuable equipment, sensitive files, or dangerous supplies.

How to prevent tailgating? Here are 10 strategies, quoted verbatim from Ms. Morton’s story:
1.  Smart cards house multiple credentials on one card.
2.  Security guards can visually confirm a badge matches the holder.
3.  Turnstiles serve as a physical barrier and are good for high-volume traffic.
4.  Laser sensors can detect multiple people.
5.  Biometrics deter employees from sharing credentials.
6.  Long-range readers can be used in parking lots and garages.
7.  PIN numbers can be added to card readers.
8.  Camera analytics enable remote facial recognition.
9.  Visitor badges ensure temporary guests are documented.
10. Man traps or air locks require a double set of identification.

The anti-tailgating strategy (or strategies) you choose depends on many factors, including the specific entry point you want to secure and its layout, the reason for controlling access to it, and, of course, your budget. If cost is an issue, you may wish to selectively target entrances that pose the greatest risk for — or history of — tailgating. Obviously, multiple levels of physical security techniques work best, but the simplest and most affordable strategy is repeated communication. Make sure employees know the risks of tailgating, remain alert at entry-points, and feel empowered to challenge unfamiliar faces.

“Effective anti-tailgating strategies ensure only the people meant to be in your building are allowed access,” writes Ms. Morton. “Approved users go in, unauthorized people are blocked.”

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Posted on 2/3/2015