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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2023

‘Piggybacking’ can open doors to security problems

By Nancy Benecki Defense Logistics Agency

Holding a door open for the person behind you may seem like the polite thing to do, but it can lead to a serious security breach at the workplace.

The Defense Department calls this practice piggybacking and defines it as an unauthorized person tagging along with an authorized person to enter a facility, restricted area, checkpoint or other controlled environment.

Piggybacking happens when someone holds a door open for a second person who doesn’t scan a common access card or enter a personal identification number to gain access.

“You're allowing someone in and you're assuming that person belongs in that location, but you should never assume,” said Mark Banks, law enforcement program manager for the Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management’s Security and Emergency Services.

Piggybacking can be unintentional and unnoticed. If a door is closing, an unauthorized person can catch it before it closes and get inside an area where they shouldn’t be, Banks said.

The best practice is not to hold the door open for anyone trailing behind and to make sure the door latches shut behind you, Banks said.

“It goes against what we were raised to do to be kind, but unfortunately in today’s world, it is safer for everyone to be security conscious rather than kind,” Banks said.

Instead, make sure each individual scans their own CAC or enters their own PIN to access buildings, workspace, rooms, controlled areas or restricted areas.

In general, Banks said employees should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, or in other words, maintain security awareness.

If someone is found at a DLA location without a CAC or visitor’s pass and an escort, Banks said not to risk a confrontation and report the person to local police as quickly as possible with their location description.

“The best thing to do is to be safe and be smart,” Banks said.