Thales Blog

Fine-tuning The Festival Experience With Secure And Efficient Ticketing

May 1, 2017

The resale of cancelled and refunded tickets for this year’s Glastonbury Festival took place last weekend, with thousands of eager music fans visiting the website in the hope of securing a place in front of the world famous Pyramid Stage.

Registration required purchasers to upload a passport photo of themselves, which would then be replicated on the paper ticket itself as a means of identification.  Such a process can be prone to errors, however, with wrongly sized images causing delays in the purchase procedure, and out of date photos leading to problems with authentication at the gates of the Festival itself.

It’s important therefore, that event organisers look at ways of improving the process to ensure the timely delivery of tickets that represent no issues around the identification of their rightful holder.

The airline industry, for example, has made significant investment in secure e-ticketing. Now almost ubiquitous, the speed, convenience, and cost-savings offered by electronic boarding passes had led to them being rapidly adopted by carriers, and swiftly accepted by travellers. Key to their ongoing popularity though, is the protection of these passes from alteration or manipulation – particularly in today’s heightened security environment.

Checking the digital signature of the barcode it uses will validate the integrity and authenticity of an electronic boarding pass. A digitally signed barcode will protect against forgery and enable validation upon check-in, so carriers will use private signing keys to sign barcodes and issue associated public certificates from a public key infrastructure (PKI) for their validation.

However, the degree to which carriers can trust their PKI depends on the protection afforded to the root and issuing Certification Authority (CA) private signing keys. These private signing keys underpin the security of the entire systems, so it’s essential that they’re properly managed and safeguarded.

And it’s not just the events and transport industries that are looking to e-tickets to save time and money on the vast number of tickets they sell. The commercial cinema industry is exploring mobile ticketing as a means of remaining connected to its customers in a digital age, and need only to look to the home cinema industry for an example of best practice in digital signing technology.

PRIMA Cinema recently became the first company in the history of cinema to be granted rights to distribute first run movies directly to viewers in their home. To do so, PRIMA Cinema ensure its content is limited only to authorised viewers via a security system that relies on a combination of encryption, digital watermarking, and digital signatures applied within the confines of purpose-built high-security hardware.

Given its on-demand qualities and its ease of access via mobile devices, it’s little surprise that e-ticketing is fast becoming more of an “expectation” for consumers than a “luxury”. For it to be more widely adopted, and to be trusted by consumers, event organisers must consider balancing this level of convenience with security a priority.

If we’re to improve the process of purchasing tickets, then secure e-ticketing needs to be at the top of the agenda for events such as Glastonbury. With robust security in place, such as that employed by the airline industry, consumers will soon fully and confidently embrace e-ticketing, enjoying a more efficient purchasing experience, and safe in the knowledge that fraudsters will have been kept at bay.