When it comes to organizing or attending corporate events, the focus is usually on the program, the venue, networking among attendees, the food and beverage, and the event setup, to name a few. Thinking about tech security when it comes to corporate events is probably one of the last things event planners and attendees even think about.
Not many people, however, realize that corporate events that do not put adequate attention on tech security are putting attendees at risk of device and data theft. If security measures are not enforced and implemented, this could negatively impact the reputation of the event, as well as create financial implications for those involved.
Security threats at corporate events
There are different threats that corporate attendees may face when it comes to tech security. Most of the time, since people in corporate events are more attentive to the event’s purpose, they tend to forget that they are vulnerable to these security threats. Below are just some examples of these threats.
Poor network security
Who doesn’t love free Wi-Fi? In this age where there is a need to connect 24/7, it has become a requirement for corporate events to provide a free internet connection to the attendees. Many professionals who attend corporate events connect their laptops and devices to the free internet without thinking twice and most of the time, without much hesitation. However, if the internet network is not well secured, this could easily become a target of cybercriminals.
Shocking statistics around laptop security show that 24% of organizations have found that employee-owned devices have connected to malicious Wi-Fi spots. When this happens, the devices become vulnerable to cyberattacks and malware.
Malware stands for malicious software, and this is usually how data is infected or stolen. Malware can come in the form of computer viruses, adware, ransomware, worms, Trojans, and spyware. There are different ways you can get malware when attending a corporate event. As mentioned earlier, if you connect to an unsecured network, this could leave you open to malware. Swapping hard drives or USB devices is also another way of getting your device infected.
After attending a corporate event, there is also a risk of receiving spam emails. If you leave your business card or enter your email information at registration desks, your info could be used to carry out these malicious emails.
Laptop and data theft
Just because you are around like-minded professionals does not mean that you should not be careful about your devices. Do you know that a laptop gets stolen every 53 seconds? This only shows that even if you have the most advanced anti-malware programs, if you are not careful about physically securing your machine, you can still be at risk.
How many times have you left your laptop open, blindly trusting that your seatmate (who you just met a couple of hours ago) will look over it for you? How about the time you let your co-attendees use your laptop to send emails, even if you’re not really sure what sites they’re visiting?
During corporate events, it is not unusual for organizers and attendees to leave their devices just lying around unattended. A lot of times, the devices in registration desks are just left there when the event is ongoing. Many attendees also forget about their laptops during the networking sessions.
Steps to keep your data and devices safe
Many event organizers who are not well-versed about how tech security works may think that this is not a necessity during corporate events. Implementing tech security measures may even be viewed as an unnecessary expense that should not be prioritized. This is a misconception because there are practical ways to keep laptops and mobile devices safe when event attendees use them remotely. Below are just some easy-to-follow recommendations that could help.
Install anti-malware programs on devices
Laptops and mobile devices are often used by organizers for registration purposes and to gather data from attendees. If you are collecting visitor’s data, you should keep in mind that you have a responsibility to keep this information safe. Make sure that the devices that are being accessed by the public have anti-malware programs installed so that in the case of a cyberattack, the device is protected.
Installing anti-malware programs is not something only organizers should do, but this should also be done by event attendees. If you are attending a corporate event, you are most likely to receive several documents and files from organizers and other attendees. Before opening or downloading these files, conduct an antivirus scan, and ensure that they do not carry malware.
Only connect to secure W-iFi networks
Unless you have a guarantee from the event organizers that the free internet they provide is secure, then it is better to pass, especially if your device holds confidential business information. If you really need to be connected and you don’t want to use up valuable data, especially if you are out of the country, look for an alternative like a portable Wi-Fi that you could use during the duration of the event.
There are now numerous prepaid internet plans that you can purchase that will not put a hole in your pocket. Paying a little extra is much better than risking your data to cybercrime, which can be more expensive to recover from.
Use the cloud to back-up your files
If you need to bring company data with you to the event, use cloud solution services to store and back-up your data instead of saving your files on a hard drive or on your laptop’s local disk. This is a more secure way of keeping your data safe compared to solely relying on a physical device. This way, if you lose your laptop or if your drive gets corrupted, you will still have access to your data.
If you are concerned about data security when using the cloud, there are cloud storage options that now offer advanced security measures and guarantees. Most of these plans offer a free trial period so you can test which service works for you before paying for a plan.
Don’t leave your devices unattended in public places
This may seem like a piece of obvious advice, but many people are still guilty of leaving their laptop unattended in public places such as airports, trade halls, cafes, and coworking spaces. For cybercriminals, there are two ways they can steal from you: they could either take the whole laptop or steal the data that you have in your device.
It may be inconvenient to carry your laptop everywhere with you, but unless you have a trusted colleague, this is the safest way to keep it secure. If you are at an event venue, ask the organizer if there is a locked check-in area where your laptop can be kept. Do not just drop it in an area where many other laptop bags are placed, and anyone can access it.
Secure your laptop and devices even in private rooms
If you are staying in a hotel room while attending a corporate event, do not just leave your laptop or computer bag on the bed or on top of a desk. While laptops do generally not fit inside hotel safe boxes, what you can do is make the extra effort to place it inside your luggage, lock the bags, and place it inside the cabinet. These steps will give it an extra layer of security as opposed to just having it open on a desk, which can be tempting for those who have access to the room.
Use data encryption and strong passwords
In the unfortunate instance that your laptop is stolen or left alone, putting in a secure password and encrypting your data will lower the chance of your data being breached. Avoid writing your device password on a piece of paper and putting it inside your laptop bag. This is a common practice among executives. No matter how strong your password is, having a password cheat sheet near your device is like spoon-feeding the thief.
Protecting your data at corporate events
It is essential to take tech security into consideration during corporate events. This could help prevent threats and minimize the risks at these public gatherings. Doing so will protect not only the event attendees but also the event organizers as well.