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Contributor II

Security Awareness vs. self preservation

I suppose many have come across the story of a man calling police from his apartment building lobby after another man apparently tailgated his way into the lobby to meet a female friend who lives there. The tailgater videotaped the man calling police - apparently as some defense/offense to show the caller's callousness to the Interweb. Of course the aspect that has been sensationalized is that the caller's young son is also in the frame of the video begging the dad not to call police. Oh, yes, there are also rampant race overtones as the parties involved seem to be racially different, and that has dominated the news coverage. The actual incident seems to resolve when the tailgater's friend does show up (coming from outside) and the caller tells police that everything is OK. Still, the tailgater posted the video to social media.

 

Interestingly, I just finished a security awareness project where we discuss tailgating and other physical scenarios. I wish we had envisioned this one. Realize the caller has been vilified to point of people asking his employer to fire him (mind you the caller did none of this while at work, on the job, etc.). I've yet to see anyone point out that the tailgater videotaped the man and his son without permission, in the lobby of their apartment building, and then posted the video to Facebook.

 

Our cultural hyperbole seems to run up against reasoned action. If you doubt that consider a matrix of different appearances and genders and how this scenario plays out differently. It shouldn't happen that way because that is the very vulnerability that leads to social engineering exploits. Yet, how do we as security practitioners fight that avalanche? Perhaps this all has something to do with the Millenial culture of sharing (perhaps oversharing) everything. Listen, doors have locks and callboxes for a reason. It's not just wise of a person to insist that these things aren't circumvented. It's neighborly. The caller had no knowledge as to whether his fellow resident was expecting this man and whether she herself would have buzzed him into the building. I'm sure people are making assessments about my background and biases given the fact the transgression I see here is a gross invasion of privacy (the tailgater uploading a video of the man and his son without their permission), but I would caution that you never know someone's full background. For example, the caller who was so concerned with the possible trespasser, his backstory apparently includes his father having been murdered by a trespasser in his driveway.

2 Replies
Contributor III

Re: Security Awareness vs. self preservation

It's an odd one.  Think how this would play out if a stranger tailgated into a workplace and an employee called facilities/physical security to have the tailgater removed for not following the visitors procedures. Clearly, there are norms and expectations in every context.

 

Having been confronted by an armed intruder trying to break into my apartment from a 4th floor balcony some years ago I too may have contacted the Police, but probably not within sight or earshot of the intruder.

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Steve Wilme CISSP-ISSAP, ISSMP M.Inst.ISP
Contributor II

Re: Security Awareness vs. self preservation


@Steve-Wilme wrote:

Having been confronted by an armed intruder trying to break into my apartment from a 4th floor balcony some years ago I too may have contacted the Police, but probably not within sight or earshot of the intruder.


Good point. In the security awareness program we put together, two points of emphasis in dealing with such situations were engage other people (e.g. find a co-worker and ask if they knew anything about contractors in the building late tonight), and also have a pretext to keep them from being confrontational ("oh, you know what, I have to call into building security anyway. Let me have your name and I'll let them know you are here.").

 

In any case, at least in the US, we seem to have lost of sense of norms and have substituted the social-media values instead. In this real-world incident, the tailgater even said "You're going to be the next guy on TV," basically real-time doxing. The guys who lives in the building escalates with "I'm going to call police" and the tailgater escalates that with "I am going to make a video and post it to social media." I fear for the future. From a legal perspective, the tailgater likely committed criminal trespass (clearly intended to enter the building, clearly was asked to leave/wait outside for his friend to buzz him in, clearly stayed). You also have the civil issue of invasion of privacy. The incident takes place in the lobby of an apartment building. There is a reasonable expectation of privacy, the resident's young son is videotaped too, and the tailgater posts it to social media with the stated intent of denigrating the individual.