Cyber Security Checklist for Event Planners

Brian Clear – General Manager, Minneapolis Convention Center

Event planners are becoming more and more interested in incorporating the use of technology to improve their attendee’s overall conference experience. Event planners have started to integrate the use of technology to assist with gathering and delivering valuable data. Apps, wearable technology, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions are just a few ways event planners incorporate the use of technology to gather information regarding their attendees, pass on venue & location facts, and increase social media exposure for their events. With the increased implementation of technology, event planners can implement all or some of the following to decrease the risk of a cyber- attack at their conferences, corporate meetings, and non-profit events.

Manage Passwords

Implementation of this step should be done before the event even begins. Event planners can make sure their data is protected by using unique passwords. Passwords should not be shared via e-mail or chat, and access to passwords should only be for those who need it. When it comes time for the event, event planners should consider having a plan in place to share passwords with their staff and consider changing the password each day of the event to minimize the risk of an attack. One way to ease the security and management of passwords is to use a password management software solution.

Anonymize Data

Conference staff and their attendees’ privacy of personal data should be a priority which is why it is essential to anonymize all personal data including registration information that has been collected. Once the data has fulfilled its intended purpose, event planners should delete the data to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands if there is a data breach. Meeting planners who have an international attendance component should consider international data privacy requirements as well, such as GDPR for European Union attendees.

Create a Closed Network

If your event venue or hotel has free and open WIFI, you could be sharing the network with a potential hacker. Event planners should consider purchasing a WIFI service to create a closed system with secure log-ins.

Install All Suggested Updates

Technology is continually evolving, and it is of utmost importance for event planners to take the time to ensure their computers, smartphones, and tablets have the latest security updates installed, not having these updates installed can weaken the security of your collected data. Software updates routinely include code to patch loopholes that attackers use to gain access to your data.

Protect Your Smartphone

The increased use of smartphones by conference attendees in the event industry is possibly the biggest security threat to an event because most of the conference data is stored on a smartphone. To prevent people from being able to access your phone if it’s lost or stolen, enabling a security code and ensuring the smartphone has the latest updates decreases the chance of personal data getting into the wrong hands.

Install Anti-Virus Software

Event planners should ensure all computers, smartphones, and tablets used by their staff to have the latest anti-virus software installed, as well as encourage their attendees to take the same precautions. By doing this simple step, event planners can reduce the risk of a hacker gaining access to their collected data.

 

References

Vicki Johnson & Associates, LLC. 2017. Risk Management: The Cyber Security Checklist for Event Professionals. [ONLINE] Available at http://vjmeetings.com/news/risk-management-the-cyber-security-checklist-for-event-professionals. [Accessed 10 July 2018].