Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 08 2015

Is Your Attendee Data Safe?

By Corey Domek

On Thursday, U.S. investigators revealed that approximately four million current and former federal employees might have had their personal information stolen by Chinese hackers. The breach impacts nearly every government agency, and it underscores a chilling reality: no one’s private information is safe.

So what do government hacking headlines have to do with meetings and conventions? Everything.

Hackers and cyber criminals don’t just have to target well-known corporations and government agencies to steal valuable information. Conventions and trade shows represent easy targets for information-hungry thieves. As thousands of attendees connect to a venue’s Wi-Fi network and browse exhibit halls, sophisticated hackers may only be a few steps away from finding their way toward passwords, credit cards and a stockpile of other sensitive information.

SEE ALSO: Cyber Security Basics From Convene

Venues Are Vulnerable

However, it’s not just unsuspecting attendees who are making it easy for hackers to have their way with data. A recent report from California-based security firm Cylance revealed that many hotels and convention centers in the US use Internet routers with serious vulnerabilities.

“[The vulnerability] has the potential to impact millions of customers ranging from everyday vacationers and data center IT staff to trade show attendees and high priority targets such as government officials, corporate executives and CSOs,” the firm wrote in a statement on the issue.

Do Your Data Security Research

As a meeting professional, it’s important to educate yourself on the steps your organization can take to minimize the potential for a data breach at your next event. If you have a mobile app, do you know what kind of encryption your developer is using? Are you having conversations with representatives at your host venue about their data security standards? While it’s good to have an easy-to-remember Wi-Fi password for attendees, is it so simple that anyone can log in?

You can get all the answers you need to protect your organization and your attendees for free on Monday, June 15 in the PCMA 2015 Education Conference Hybrid. Sponsored by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, the full day of programming includes an educational session with Michael Robinson, CCE, Senior Cyber Threat Analyst & Professor, Stevenson University. Click here to register.

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