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Connley Walker Security Consulting Blog: How to Bypass Security with a Vest

Imagine being able to gain entry into a music festival without being screened by security or spending a cent on tickets. It may sound impossible however, we have recently seen an online trend where teenagers challenge each other to bypass security screening by wearing a Hi-Vis vest to disguise themselves as contractors or staff on site. You would think a simple disguise such as a Hi-Vis vest would not be sufficient enough against highly secured areas however, you would be shocked with how many security controls fall victim to this simple tactic.

In 2014, a group of teenagers disguised themselves by wearing Hi-Vis vests. This group was able to successfully bypass security at St Petersburg Pulkovo International Airport by exploring the runway and entering an unmanned plane. The group took advantage of the Hi-Vis vests and were able to take photos within the cockpit of the plane for their social media pages. This simple tactic to bypass security raised much concern over the current security controls in place. Despite on-site security guards, CCTV, intrusion detection systems and additional security controls, the Pulkovo International Airport were unable to prevent three unarmed and unskilled teenagers from bypassing security.

The Pulkovo International Airport is not the only victim to the Hi-Vis vest trickery. A recent trend with hundreds of online videos have been poking fun at comprehensive security controls being easily bypassed by a simple vest. A simple tactic such as this one catches many organizations and security managers red faced. It is not uncommon for stakeholders to be misled into thinking that comprehensive security equipment and staffing is the solution to a successful security management system. The issue with this common belief is that is often overlooks the importance of security awareness in the workplace. The Hi-Vis vest trend ultimately comes down to mocking the security awareness of a workplace. An organisation can spend hundreds of thousands on extensive CCTV systems, intrusion detection systems and staff however, what would be the purpose if an adversary could purchase a three dollar Hi-Vis vest and walk straight past any and all security controls?

So, the question boils down to how do we improve and maintain an appropriate level of security awareness? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors such as the type of adversary or threat an organization faces as well as their assets. While each organization is different, its important to never underestimate the power of security awareness. Maintaining staff training and re-enforcing security awareness in the workplace could be the difference to a breach and successfully protecting your assets.

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