Security Review: Hollywood Awards Presentations

By ericm6 at 8:56 pm on March 13, 2009Comments Off on Security Review: Hollywood Awards Presentations

Big Hollywood parties have big time guest lists, so it’s no wonder that many people want to be there.  These include both (mostly) benign fans and some people of the less benign variety.  Hence, security at these events is a big deal.  In 2000, the event’s security made national headlines when the oscar statues were stolen by a shipping company employee.  More recently, Scott Weiss has been trying to crash all variety of big Hollywood parties, including the Grammy’s, the Golden Globes, and the Oscars, producing a documentary on the topic.

Assets and Security Goals:

  • The safety of attendees.  The guest lists of these events contains lots of famous names that could be the target of attacks  on their personal safety.
  • The timeliness of the event.  These events are usually televised live, with lots of advertising revenue depending on the event showing on time.  Failing to do so would cause significant losses to many parties involved.
  • The exclusivity of the event.  Failing to prevent the general public form obtaining access to the even would dilute the exclusivity and mysticism of the even, making the event feel less important overall

Potential Adversaries:

  • Personal enemies.  The guests are often famous, meaning they’ve made a name for themselves, generally meaning they’ve also made a few enemies, who may want to harm them.
  • Paparazzi.  These pseudo journalists will do anything to capture or make a story about some celebrity, often at the epense of that person’s reputation and possibly safety.
  • Overzealous fans.  These fans can go overboard in their attempts to meet the Hollywood star in question, possibly causing safety issues for that person.


  • Given the large guest lists generally include many lesser-known celebrities and their entourage, security personnel generally don’t know everyone on the guest list, so it’s possible to impersonate one of these people given the right fake credentials.
  • While electronic keycards are common, there is quite often an entrance without the capability to verify these that’s used by service personnel, making the system trivial to bypass.
  • As always, the human element applies, in that if a person acts like they belong at the event, no one tends to question that fact, once they’re inside.  Moreover, Weiss has found that security personnel will often back down from asking question is you claim to be in a hurry, not wanting to make themselves a target of the guests anger.

Potential Defenses:

  • The electronic keycard system could be expanded to be at every entrance, making passes much more difficult to duplicate.
  • Better training and protection from retribution for security personnel could help prevent the specific human weaknesses exploited by Weiss and company.

In conclusion, while the parties are generally secure from a large scale perspective, becoming totally secure for such a large even will be extremely difficult and possibly be at the cost of usability of the system.  The celebrities generally don’t want to be bothered with security, so the system will likely have backdoors built in to allow them easy access in, which could make any of these upgrades moot anyways.

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