Tailgating is one of the most common and innocent security breaches – an employee opening a door and holding it open for others, visitors without badges, or the passive acceptance of a uniformed worker. The problem with these lax situations and common courtesy is that they open your building to undocumented and unauthorized entry by individuals who could intend harm to your property and employees.

A recent survey of enterprise security executives by Boon Edam Inc. offers some interesting perceptions about the risk of tailgating into facilities. According to the survey results, a majority of the respondents believe that security breaches from tailgating remain at the same level or are on the rise.  More than 70 percent of respondents believe they are currently vulnerable to a security breach from tailgating. Hitting even closer to home, more than 70 percent believed that it was somewhat likely to very likely a security breach could happen at their own facility as a result of a tailgating incident.

More than half of respondents believe the cost of a breach from tailgating to be $150,000 and up to “too high to measure.” While respondents debated over the numbers, more than 25 percent believed if someone were to tailgate into their facility and commit a violent crime or theft, the cost of the incident to their organization would be too high to measure. More than 50 percent placed the cost at more than $150,000.

How to mitigate tailgating? More than 70 percent of respondents believe a barrier of some type is the most effective way to curtail tailgating. According to the survey, while a variety of different strategies are used today, the most popular strategies (at more than 60 percent) are physical security barriers of some type and employee education.  More than 70 percent of the respondents believed that a barrier of some form was the most appropriate way to curtail tailgating, followed by a security officer and alarm. Using just a security officer alone scored less than 5 percent, the survey showed.

Surprisingly, only 15 percent of respondents said they were currently tracking tailgating incidents regularly. “While surveyors believe security breaches due to tailgating are on the rise and are deploying several strategies to combat tailgating, the big surprise is that roughly three quarters of respondents are not tracking tailgating occurrences, which could be a way to report on effectiveness or ROI and develop improvement strategies,” the survey results said.

“In summary, the majority of survey respondents appear to take tailgating and its risks very seriously and were deploying a variety of strategies to combat it, but they still consider themselves vulnerable,” according to the survey. “This suggests that the current level of security at the majority of facilities is perceived to be inadequate for stopping tailgating altogether. Since the majority of respondents believe the threat is real and potentially very expensive, this suggests that a need is not being met and investments in tailgating prevention, or increasing the level of physical security, will likely be future budget considerations.”

Dan Colin, Director Global Security and Privacy Officer for Hospira, a pharmaceutical and medical device company with headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois, who completed the survey, told me: “Most of our plants and here at corporate utilize turnstiles to minimize tailgating. However, where we don’t have turnstiles and just card readers for access, there is always the concern for tailgaters. We have training programs for all new hires that specifically discuss tailgating as an education piece.”     

Colin noted that he’s not currently tracking tailgating at his facility, per se. “When we do have tailgating, it is addressed to the individual by the security officers and noted on their shift logs, but we do not track as a specific metric,” he said.

Last, while he’s not currently looking at a specific security technology to mitigate tailgating, he did say: “We know what the gaps are and make appropriate design and system with technology changes, but anytime you initiate such changes, it requires capital to redesign doors or entranceways to accommodate the barriers being utilized. So it comes down to appropriations of funding.”

What about you? How big of an issue is tailgating at your enterprise, and what are you and your team doing to mitigate it? Email me at ritcheyd@bnpmedia.com