Did you know that a single security breach at an event can cost organizers millions of dollars?  Whether it's a concert, conference, trade show, or a sporting event, effective access control is critical to prevent security disasters. From managing attendee entry to controlling access to restricted areas, these access management measures are essential for the safety and overall success of any event.

Access control systems are designed to thwart unauthorized entry and ensure attendee safety while addressing security threats and counterfeiting problems. Event organizers should prioritize access control as an integral part of event planning and management. 

In this article, we will explore types of event access controls, and several best practices for robust event admission management. 

How Event Access Control Works

Event access control works by regulating the entry of individuals into event venues or specific areas within them. Various access control methods can be employed, including:

  1. Discretionary Access Control (DAC): It allows the owner of the resource to determine who can access it. Think of this as a VIP list. The event organizer, acting as the "owner" of the resource (access to an area), decides who gets on the list. This is commonly used for events where organizers know most attendees, like private parties or conferences with pre-approved participants. Imagine a backstage area at a concert – only artists, crew, and authorized personnel would be on the "list" granted access by the organizer.
  2. Mandatory Access Control (MAC): This method of access permissions are determined by security policies set by system administrators. MAC is useful for high-security events where access needs to be tightly controlled. This is ideal for events with sensitive areas, like restricted sections at a trade show showcasing unreleased products. Here, only authorized personnel with specific security clearances (set by the administrators) would be allowed access.
  1. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): This assigns access based on job titles or roles. Imagine a large music festival with various sections – staff, volunteers, and guests. RBAC grants access based on pre-defined roles. Staff might have access to all areas, volunteers might have access to specific zones like merchandise booths, and guests might only have access to the general event area.

In simpler terms:

  • DAC: You decide who gets in (like a VIP list).
  • MAC: Strict rules determine who gets in (like a high-security vault).
  • RBAC: Your job title determines where you can go (like staff vs volunteers at an event).

Training employees on access control procedures and best practices is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of access control measures. Employees need to understand how to properly verify tickets, check IDs, operate access control systems, and respond to security incidents. By providing comprehensive training, event organizers can enhance security, minimize errors, and ensure smooth operations during events.

Event Access Control Best Practices

  1. Identifying potential threats and risks

Potential threats and risks associated with identity and access management (IAM) systems encompass a range of factors. Cybersecurity threats, including data breaches and unauthorized access, pose significant risks to sensitive information. 

The complexity of IAM system implementations can lead to errors and vulnerabilities if not properly managed. Some common issues include: 

  • Weak user authentication and authorization processes may result in unauthorized access to resources. 
  • Compliance and regulatory standards must be adhered to, or organizations risk facing legal consequences. 
  • Insider threats, such as malicious insiders or negligent employees, can compromise system security. 
  • Scalability and adaptability challenges may hinder the system's ability to accommodate organizational growth and changes. Poor user experience can lead to user frustration and potential security gaps.

Reviewing the problems surrounding existing IAM systems is the first step towards improving the event access control management. 

  1. Set Registration Security Standards

Strong security starts with registration. Setting registration security standards is crucial for ensuring the integrity of event access control.  Here's how to keep your event registration safe from hackers and disruptions:

Encrypt Data: Use scrambled channels (encryption) whenever you send or receive registration info. This makes it unreadable for anyone snooping around.

Double Check Identities: Make sure registrants are who they say they are with multi-factor authentication. Think of it like a two-step verification process for extra security.

Patch Up the System: Software updates are like security patches. Keep your registration system up-to-date to fix any weaknesses hackers might try to exploit.

Additionally, conducting thorough background checks on registration staff and implementing monitoring systems to detect unusual activity can further enhance security.

By following these steps, you can create a secure registration process that protects attendee data and keeps your event safe.

  1. Set Protocols for Admission Management

Seamless and secure entry starts with well-defined admission protocols. Here's how to create a bulletproof system:

  • Staff Training: Train staff on proper ticket verification procedures, including checking for authenticity and identifying counterfeits. They should also be trained to verify ID documents thoroughly, ensuring validity and matching them to ticket holders.
  • Fraudulent Entry Prevention: Establish clear procedures for handling suspicious activity, including attempts to use invalid tickets, duplicate IDs, or unauthorized entry. This might involve procedures for confiscating tickets, denying entry, and escalating to security personnel.
  • Regular Drills: Conduct regular drills to ensure staff are prepared to handle various situations. Simulate scenarios like fraudulent attempts, high traffic volume, and technical glitches with access control systems.
  • Security Checkpoints: Designate clear entry points with a visible security presence. Staff should be stationed at each checkpoint to monitor activity, manage access flow, and respond swiftly to any security concerns.
  • Clear Signage: Post clear signage at entry points outlining entry requirements, access procedures, and prohibited items. This helps attendees prepare for admission and reduces confusion.
  • Lost and Found Procedures: Develop a system for handling lost or forgotten tickets or IDs. This could involve issuing temporary replacements with proper verification or directing attendees to a designated lost and found area.
  • Contingency Plans: Have a contingency plan in place for unforeseen circumstances, such as technical malfunctions with access control systems. This might involve implementing manual verification procedures or utilizing alternative entry points.

By implementing these detailed protocols, you can ensure a secure and efficient admission process that minimizes disruptions and keeps your event running smoothly.

  1. Video Surveillance at Entry and Exit Points

Video surveillance enhances security at entry and exit points by providing a comprehensive view of activities, enabling the detection of suspicious behavior and safety hazards from a different perspective. 

It offers real-time monitoring and recording capabilities, allowing security personnel to respond promptly to incidents. Video surveillance can be conducted on-site, utilizing cameras strategically placed throughout the venue, or at a secure off-site location, providing additional redundancy and data protection. 

By leveraging video surveillance technology, event organizers can enhance security measures and ensure the safety of attendees and staff.

  1. Partner with a Trusted Event Hosting Platform for Secure Data Management 

Protecting attendee data is paramount. Choose a trusted event hosting platform that offers a comprehensive security package, including:

Encryption: This scrambles data during storage and transmission, making it unreadable to unauthorized individuals, even if intercepted.

Granular Access Control: This allows you to control who can access and modify attendee information, minimizing the risk of internal breaches.

Secure Data Storage: Look for a platform that utilizes geographically dispersed, redundant data centers. This means your data is stored in multiple locations, minimizing the impact of a physical disaster at any one location. The data centers should also employ fireproof and waterproof storage with climate control systems and additional physical security measures.

Data Masking: This hides sensitive data like credit card numbers when it's not required for viewing, providing an extra layer of protection.

Strict USB Management: Policies should control how USB devices are used to prevent accidental data leaks.

By leveraging these features, you can not only comply with privacy regulations but also 

build trust with attendees while mitigating security risks.

  1. Rely on Role-Based Access Control

Implementing Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) involves several practices.

  • Regular audits and reviews ensure access privileges remain aligned with organizational needs and policies. 
  • Automated role assignment streamlines access management by assigning roles based on predefined criteria. 
  • Clear role definitions establish the scope of access for each role, minimizing ambiguity.
  • Role hierarchies define relationships between roles, facilitating granular access control.
  • Integration with event processes ensures seamless access control within event management systems. 

By adhering to these practices, organizations can effectively implement RBAC, enhance security, and streamline access management processes.

  1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) enhances security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before accessing systems or data. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, as an attacker would need to compromise multiple factors to gain entry. 

MFA typically involves three factors: 

  • something you know such as a password
  • something you have such as a smartphone or a wristband
  • something you are such as biometric data like fingerprint or facial recognition

By requiring multiple factors, MFA strengthens event security, ensuring that only authorized individuals with legitimate credentials can access sensitive information or areas within the event venue.

  1. Implement Privileged Access Management

Keeping a large event secure requires meticulous management of access privileges. This is where Privileged Access Management (PAM) comes into picture, which can work alongside Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) for robust security.

Privilege Access Management (PAM) is a system that safeguards access to critical data and systems within an organization. It ensures only authorized personnel have the necessary permissions to perform their tasks, minimizing security risks.

RBAC Defines Roles and Permissions: RBAC establishes different user roles (admin, staff, vendor) and assigns specific permissions to each role. This clarifies what actions each user can perform within the system.

PAM Enforces Access Control: PAM builds upon RBAC by controlling user access based on assigned roles and implements features like multi-factor authentication and temporary access for enhanced protection.

Securing Your Event with PAM:

  • Plan Access:  Identify all event roles and the specific data or areas each role needs access to (e.g., registration for staff, financial data for admins). Apply the principle of least privilege, granting only the minimum access required.
  • Choose a Scalable PAM: Select a PAM solution that can handle your large user base and integrates with your event management and ticketing systems.
  • Implement Secure Access with PAM:  Create user accounts with MFA and assign roles with appropriate permissions based on the RBAC plan. Enforce strong password policies.
  1. Monitoring and auditing access usage

Monitoring and auditing access usage involves regularly reviewing access logs to track user activity, conducting thorough audits of access privileges to ensure compliance, and updating the access control policy as needed to address evolving threats. 

Auditing is crucial for maintaining the principle of least privilege, ensuring that users only have access to what is necessary for their roles. By auditing access usage, organizations can identify and mitigate security risks, reduce the attack surface, and enhance overall security posture, ultimately safeguarding sensitive data and protecting against unauthorized access.

Popular Tech Integrations for Robust Event Access Management

Integrating biometric access, RFID contactless entry, and mobile access solutions for events offers several benefits to enhance overall security effectiveness. 

  • Biometric access provides a highly secure and convenient authentication method based on unique physical characteristics. 
  • RFID contactless entry enables fast and efficient access control without the need for physical contact, reducing congestion and enhancing attendee experience. 
  • Mobile access solutions leverage smartphones as secure credentials, offering flexibility and ease of use for attendees. 

By combining these technologies, events can strengthen security measures, streamline access control processes, and ensure a safe and seamless experience for all attendees.

How to Choose The Best Event Access Control For Your System

When choosing the best event access control system, several key considerations must be addressed. 

  • Scalability ensures the system can accommodate varying event sizes and attendee numbers. 
  • Ease of use is crucial for seamless operations and minimal attendee inconvenience. Integration capabilities enable the system to work harmoniously with existing event infrastructure and technologies. 
  • The level of security provided by the chosen technology is paramount, ensuring robust protection against unauthorized access and security breaches. 

By prioritizing scalability, ease of use, integration capabilities, and security, event organizers can select an access control system that meets their specific requirements and enhances overall event security and efficiency.


Robert West - Senior Manager Design & Innovation
ID&C | May 2024