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How to Prevent Cyber Attacks at Meetings and Events

Marc Crawford
Posted by Marc Crawford
on 10/17/18 04:06 PM

Marc Crawford is the CEO and Co-Founder of Educational Measures and sets the strategic direction for the company. Marc was recognized in 2012 as a Top 5 Most Influential Young Professional by ColoradoBiz magazine and is Six Sigma certified. Marc is an avid runner and he also enjoys designing and making his kids' halloween costumes every year.

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Isn't it great that we live in a connected world?  We can sit in a park and talk face-to-face with our friends across the globe or receive a notification from home that someone dropped a package at our front door. It’s fantastic! 

So what's the catch? All the conveniences of an interconnected world come with increased security risks.  Each of us is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data hacks, and stolen identities. Terms like malware and phishing are part of our everyday vocabulary. And guess what?

 

Live meetings and events are no different! In fact, some the greatest risks for cyber security breaches happen during these types of gatherings. 

 

Think about this for a moment. Attendees from all over the world gather in one location and use their devices on the same public network. Sound like an irresistible opportunity for ill-seeking parties to hijack, manipulate, and sabotage your event? You bet!

How to Prevent Cyber Attacks at Meetings and Events

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). An yet, with all the risks, participants continue to demand more “connected” and interactive technology at meetings. There's more and more pressure for meeting organizers to enhance audience engagement and increase ROI with data-driven insights. How can you ensure your meetings and events are secure?

Secure Your Live Meeting Technology

Believe it or not, it's possible to be diligent in delivering technology in the most secure manner, while ensuring an unaltered, valuable audience experience. I've outlined 3 important steps to prevent cyber attacks at your live meetings. 

 

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 prioritizes 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? Bring your own device (BYOD), while convenient, can introduce a number of serious cyber risks. You've heard the old adage, “The greatest security risk is you.” This couldn't be more correct when it comes to meetings and events! Many members of your audience do not have security in mind when creating passwords, clicking on attachments, and keeping their devices up-to-date. Yes, you guessed it. These are the very participants most likely to introduce new threats to the network and other participants’ devices. 

Offering devices like iPads for participants to use is a more secure option.  It provides a consistent, up-to-date, and predictable platform for your attendees to engage with. This usually means restrictive profiles are placed on these devices to prevent unauthorized access to apps or networks, and the devices are consistently updated with the latest security features.

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

 

3. Setup a closed network.

"What's a closed network," you ask?

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 stay 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 the 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. 

Above All, Don’t Panic About Cyber Security!

While the risks of using any connected technology are real, they should not keep you from leveraging event technology. Providing an interactive, immersive experience for your audience should always be your goal. Do your research, be aware of the risks, and take the necessary preventative steps. You'll enjoy peace-of-mind about the security of your participants, content, and data at all of your upcoming meetings. 

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