Last Thursday I was asked to review a concert. Seeing as I have not been to a live rock concert in a million years I thought it might be fun. Security is a big issue, particularly when you have over 10,000 metal fans and a 6 hour event. Security was out in force, as we neared the Calgary Saddledome everywhere you looked were people with t-shirts and jackets on emblazoned with the word Security. But just how effective is it? Well I discovered that it was really not very secure at all.

The normal entrance to the stadium involves a serious hike up a huge flight of steps, Jan is not very nimble on steps so I decided to try a little social engineering. I picked the most senior looking staff member I could find, and patiently explained that we were members of the media, my wife could not possibly hike up the stairs and we needed to get to Will Call to pick up our press credentials . We were not asked for any type of identification, but we were led into the bowels of the building. The words Media and Press had worked their charm. While everyone else was being patted down for guns, knives, Abba CD’s, and who knows what else, we walked through all of the physical checks.

The nice staff member dropped us off at Will Call. We picked up our passes, but the Photog Credential was missing! The ticket folks suggested that I check at the concierge desk. Oh no, we are going to have to face the pat down search. We went to the concierge desk, and while they did not have the credential they were not concerned because I was on the official list, “follow me” the lady says, and once again we waltz right by, the now lengthy line up of people being searched.

I found this experience pretty illuminating. Huge layers of security have just been peeled away and rendered absolutely pointless by using the ‘open sesame’ word of Press.

Now, I am not complaining, I like the fact that we managed to avoid the hassle of the security check. I also was not trying to smuggle in any contraband.

We decided to leave shortly before the concert ended to avoid the by now 10,000 drunken metal heads, a 6 hour Crue Fest affords plenty of opportunity for imbibing maybe just one too many. The problem though was how to egress the building without facing the dreaded 8 million steps at the main entrance.

My savior was a young staff member who recognized me. No, I am not famous, and my TV appearances are limited to some ads that periodically run on our local stations. It was a young lady who I helped write a resume several years ago. She led us through the labyrinth of the ‘behind the scenes’ Saddledome and got us out of the building with almost no steps involved.

This adventure in retrospect is a glowing example of all that is wrong with security systems, people! While I was not trying to circumvent the system for any nefarious purpose, it is clear that it is a pretty trivial task to do so. I believe the term used is ‘social engineering’, all you need is a plausible, or even better, compelling story and you are in!

Simon Barrett

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