When planning any type of event, it is important to make security your top priority. Your preparations should include learning the layout back and forth, hiring a qualified security team, and then creating a strategy to protect your company and the guests from cybercrime. While many event planners don’t see data breaches or malware as a primary threat, they should. The fact is, as events become more technology-focused, the necessity for good cybersecurity becomes more important than ever.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Failure to protect your event from the potential of cybercrime will not only put the attendees in danger, but if a breach does occur, it could be detrimental to your business and reputation. Let’s talk about why digital security is so important at events and what you can do to stay protected.
It is a common misconception that hackers only go after large companies and retailers like Target and Walmart because they have all the customers and an endless supply of money to steal.
However, the truth is that hackers often target small businesses and event planning companies like yours because it isn’t really money that they are after, but instead, the data of your customers. That is why many industries, including real estate, are becoming targets of cybercrime. It all comes down to the data.
While credit card numbers are a big attraction for hackers, any piece of data can be used maliciously, including:
- Social security numbers and birthdates, which can be used to steal a victim’s identity and contact information.
- Phone numbers and email addresses that can be used for phishing scams or sold on the black market.
The fact is that data is as good as money, and if you have a large event with hundreds or thousands of attendees, then hackers will want to get in and take what they can.
In the past, all event planners needed was a meeting space and some flyers. However, as time goes on, events are becoming more advanced, often featuring a bevy of tech features, including tablets for signing in guests and even smart floors that can collect the foot traffic data of your attendees. Once technology is introduced, hackers can have instant access to your system, and it only takes one unsecured device to create a pathway through your entire corporate database.
If your event is hacked, the effects can be detrimental and can include anything from lawsuits to a hit to your reputation that could decimate your business. Needless to say, you need to start paying attention to cybersecurity.
Now that you understand why it is so important to keep your event digitally secure, you should also know the many ways that hackers can breach your function so you can stay protected. It is important to know that hackers can use any device that is connected to your network to breach your system.
If you have a large event where other companies are trying to bring in their own audience using smartphones and other tech, and they are connected to your network, then any vulnerability they have could negatively impact you.
There are many strategies that hackers can use to breach your systems, including the phishing scam.
Phishing emails are a big risk because hackers can set them up to look like invites from your company and send them to the people on your mailing list. The hacker inserts a fake link that when clicked, creates a pathway into the user’s devices. Once the hacker has access, they can install malware, and when the victim goes to your event, they bring that malware straight to you. If your systems are not secure, the criminal can wreak havoc.
If that wasn’t scary enough, hackers can also use a tactic called ransomware that, if unleashed, could completely ruin your event.
Basically, ransomware is when a hacker gets into your system and plants a virus, either through a phishing scam or by simply sticking an infected USB drive into one of your attendee’s devices. Once inside, the virus will encrypt all of the data and the hacker won’t release your systems until you pay a hefty financial sum. You would be effectively locked out of your event.
The effort needed to either pay the ransom or find another solution will likely be enough to ruin the gathering you have worked so hard to create, and people might be hesitant to join another one of your events.
Phishing and ransomware scams are just the tip of the iceberg, especially if your event is surrounded by technology. Hackers can even manipulate the USB ports that may be installed in tables, chairs, or walls, so when the user connects, the hacker gets full control.
With so many possible threats, protecting every aspect of your event is essential, and you may need help. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a cybersecurity expert to your team, or at least bring one in while you plan big events. They can check for potential vulnerabilities and protect your systems on all fronts.
Beyond bringing in an expert, protecting your systems simply requires vigilance and the common-sense protections that you use for your home computing, such as:
- Using smart passwords that incorporate letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Doubling that security with a form of two-factor authentication like a fingerprint or face scan that is unique to you and cannot be easily duplicated.
- Keep all of your devices updated with the most recent software, as the updates will protect you against the latest cyber scams. You can go onto the manufacturer’s website to get those updates. Once done, make it a habit to run antivirus software scans every week to catch any threats.
- Make it a point to train all of your staff on cyber threats and how to stay protected.
As you can see, your events are not immune to the threat of hackers. However, with the proper protection and a bit of knowledge, you can ensure that your gathering goes off without a hitch.
Are you an event planner? Have you considered paying attention to cybersecurity? Please share your thoughts on any of the social media pages listed below. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.