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Locking the Digital Doors: Implementing Access Controls to Prevent Cybersecurity...
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Locking the Digital Doors: Implementing Access Controls to Prevent Cybersecurity Tailgating

Sindri Bergmann
4 min read ∙ Jun 9, 2023

The digital landscape is a sprawling, interconnected network teeming with opportunities for businesses and individuals alike. However, it also presents an ample hunting ground for malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. Among these vulnerabilities is a concept known as ‘tailgating’ or ‘piggybacking’ in the cybersecurity realm. 

Tailgating refers to unauthorized individuals gaining access to restricted areas by following authorized individuals—applied digitally, this equates to unauthorized users gaining access to systems and data by exploiting legitimate users’ access. This article explores how we can lock our digital doors to prevent cybersecurity tailgating through effective implementation of access controls.

Understanding Digital Tailgating

In a physical setting, tailgating is easily visualized—picture an unauthorized person following a legitimate employee through a secure door without being challenged or checked. In the digital world, the principle is the same, but the mechanisms differ. Cybersecurity tailgating often involves an unauthorized user gaining access to a system, network, or data by exploiting someone else’s legitimate access—often without that person’s knowledge.

Potential methods for digital tailgating include unauthorized users taking advantage of weak or shared passwords, riding on unsecured network connections, or exploiting permissions granted to software applications and services. All these avenues offer opportunities for data breaches, system disruption, and other cyber threats.

Implementing Access Controls

Access control strategies are at the forefront of preventing cybersecurity tailgating. They operate on the principle of ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to specific data or systems and that they only have the level of access required to perform their roles effectively.

Here are a few critical strategies for implementing access control: 

  1. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): With RBAC, system access permissions are tied to the specific roles of individual users within an organization. This approach helps ensure that employees have appropriate access to fulfill their duties, reducing the likelihood of granting excessive permissions that could be exploited.
  1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a resource, such as a password, a biometric factor, or a token. This approach adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for unauthorized users to tailgate on an authorized user’s access.
  1. Least Privilege Principle: This concept involves granting users the least amount of access they need to perform their jobs effectively. By limiting the access of each user, the potential damage caused by a breach can be minimized.
  1. Regular Auditing and Monitoring: Regularly auditing access controls and monitoring usage patterns can help identify anomalies indicative of tailgating. For instance, unusual spikes in data access or activity from a user account can indicate compromised credentials.
  1. Secure Network Configurations: Unsecured networks provide an avenue for unauthorized users to gain access to systems and data. Employing encryption, VPNs, firewalls, and other secure networking practices can help prevent this form of tailgating.
Computer screen with VPN on it to prevent cybersecurity tailgating

In today’s digital world, the threat of cybersecurity tailgating is a constant concern. By understanding the risks and implementing robust access control mechanisms, organizations can effectively lock their digital doors against unauthorized access. This not only protects sensitive data and systems but also contributes to the overall integrity and trustworthiness of the digital landscape. With the proper precautions, we can ensure that our digital doorways are secure, keeping our data, systems, and users safe.

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We offer a free trial of our security awareness training (no credit card or commitment needed) where you can take a look at the Human Risk Assessment and all our cybersecurity videos to find out if our human risk management solution fits your needs.

Sindri Bergmann
4 min read ∙ Jun 9, 2023

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