To my theatregoing readers: in the wake of Paris and Brussels, how secure do you feel going to the theatre?
Yesterday, I chaired an event looking at security risks currently facing Theatreland. As far as terrorism threats go, let me share some good news from our guest speaker, Rob Hoblin, a Cognitious Ltd consultant who has more than 30 years of policing experience. Rob rates the likelihood of an ISIS-style terrorist attack in the West End as pretty low, not least because of the preparedness of the Metropolitan Police.
So, that’s something of a relief – though no excuse for complacency, of course. But here’s the thing: physical threats of that nature are just one plot point on a spectrum of risks facing the theatre industry.
“Are hackers targeting the West End? You bet they are”
And so, to my theatre industry readers, take special note please: There are a host of other inter-connected risks relating to IT, data and anti-fraud security – not to mention new payment card industry compliance and EU information regulations looming (whether we vote to remain or leave) – that are not only highly likely but already occurring…
Or put another way: Are hackers targeting the West End? You bet they are. Indeed, with some of the extremely high-profile productions on the horizon, 2016 may be the industry’s most vulnerable year ever. According to Ben Rapp, CEO of Managed Networks, who sponsored the seminar (and paid me to chair it – thanks, Ben!), the hack attack “is real and it’s active and it’s very well funded.”
And as for the marketing and ticketing potential promised by Big Data: it’s as much of a risk, and potentially exorbitant cost, as it is an opportunity. “The more data you keep, the more risk you have,” warns Ben, who also refers to Big Data as “the big disease”.
“The more data you keep, the more risk you have”
If you’re in the theatre industry – all you ticketing and marketing folks, theatre owners, producers, operations managers etc – I advise you to gen up. There’s no abdicating responsibility just because you work in the arts. Even in Theatreland, when it comes to IT security, in the words of Ben: “No one except you can protect you. No one product, technology, or process will save you from all ills. Wake up and shape up, or get hacked. It’s that simple.”
I’ve gathered live-tweets as well as photos (spot yourself or anyone else you know?) from yesterday’s event below. I also recommend you read Ben’s own, regularly updated blog (don’t let the subtitle referring to “enterprise IT issues and IT security” put you off – Ben writes as engagingly as he presents, and in lay terms).