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How to Ensure Your Meeting Technology is Secure | EM

Tyler Nelson
Posted by Tyler Nelson
on 05/9/17 07:30 PM

Tyler Nelson is a Product Manager at Educational Measures, LLC with 15 years of meeting and event technology experience. An expert in communication and design with demonstrated experience in web and video technologies, business processes, and project management, Tyler is constantly assessing EM’s products for new opportunities in an environment of ever-changing client and market needs. Driven by creativity and analytics, he engages with cross-functional teams and maintains a user-centered approach in effectively guiding complex initiatives from inception to market.

If you’re reading this right now, you know (hopefully!) that we live in a connected world. From smartphones to the Internet of Things (IoT), we are constantly plugged in. 

We can sit in a park and talk face-to-face with our friends across the globe or receive a notification from our home that someone dropped a package at our front door. It’s fantastic!

But with the conveniences of an interconnected world come increased security risks, leaving us all vulnerable to the likes of cyber-attacks, data hacks, and stolen online identities. 

Terms like malware and phishing become part of our everyday vocabulary as trillions of bytes of information transmitted from billions of devices create an irresistible opportunity for ill-seeking parties to hijack, manipulate, and sabotage others for their own gain.

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Meetings and conferences are no different.  

In fact, hotel and conference venues are quite prone to compromised Internet security (read this article from the Huffington Post or this one about a 7-year-old who hacked a venue’s wifi in 10 minutes). Attendees from all over the world gathering in one location using all their devices on the same public network is a breeding ground for the transmission of Internet security “diseases” and cyber-attacks.

For meeting organizers, this risk becomes more of a reality as participants and organizations alike continue to demand more “connected” technology in their meetings to enhance audience engagement and increase ROI.

Securing Your Live Meeting Technology

So how can meeting decision-makers be diligent in delivering technology in the most secure manner, while ensuring unaltered, valuable experience?

1. Use HTTPS

If you’ve opted to provide access to content over the Internet, make sure the application or website transmissions are secured using HTTPS. This protocol encrypts the connection between participants’ devices and the host (website), ensuring that a rogue device or “man-in-the-middle” cannot hijack the transmitted data (vs HTTP, which does not use encryption leaving the data vulnerable). Thankfully, the Internet is trending toward HTTPS being a standard, as even Google has begun to prioritize indexing pages served over https.

2. Provide devices for participants to use.

“How does handing out devices to my attendees make my meeting more secure?” you may ask. BYOD (“bring your own device”), while convenient, can introduce a number of risks. You may have heard the adage, “The greatest security risk is you.” Audience members usually do not have security in mind when creating passwords, clicking on email attachments, and keeping their devices up-to-date; therefore, their devices become more likely to introduce new threats to the network and other participants’ devices. 

Offering devices like iPads for participants to use is more secure, as it provides a consistent, up-to-date, and predictable platform for your attendees to engage with your meeting or conference. This usually means restrictive profiles are placed on these devices to prevent unauthorized access to apps or networks, and the devices are consistently imaged with up-to-date hardware and software.

The more you can control your meeting environment, the more secure that environment will be.

3. Setup a closed network.

A closed network means that the network is private and is only available to those authorized to connect in the meeting space. All content, traffic, and data stays within the secure network, thereby preventing intrusions from the world-wide web. Think of a closed network as an exclusive club for your meeting technology, where only members are allowed to access and exchange information.

What does a closed network typically look like? Essentially, a wireless network is created in the meeting space with access points using WPA/WPA2 authentication so only approved devices can connect. A server is also connected to this network, allowing for content to be disseminated and data and information to be collected – all within the confines of this network.

Using a technology solution that leverages a closed network creates a controlled environment where security protocols can be consistently applied and followed. This contained approach drastically minimizes the chances of security breaches and data theft.

Don’t freak out!

While the risks of using any connected technology are real, they should not keep you from leveraging meeting technologysolutions. Simply be aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions to mitigate each. Doing this will give you peace-of-mind about the security of content and the participant data in every meeting.

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