How to Navigate Cybersecurity in a World of Convenience

By Matt Swenson, July 20, 2017

Cybersecurity is not a glamorous conversation to have, but in the 21st century, it’s no longer one we can avoid. “Convenience is the enemy of security,” says Michael Owen, managing partner at EventGenuity LLC. That sums up the dilemma we face on a daily basis. In the world of the Internet of Things—where car keys, refrigerators, microwaves and even electric wheelchairs are vulnerable to hackers— everyone is at risk.

Consider these facts:

> Airports acknowledge their wireless systems are not secure.

> Data swipers have victimized Uber customers.

> Public USB ports in hotels and convention centers can’t be fully protected.

> The basic idea of having insurance is a source of public debate.

Despite these details, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself, or an attendee, to give up things now considered essential—we all need to charge our devices, after all. The key is to minimize risks. “You can’t prevent everything,” acknowledges MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, who, like Owen, regularly leads conference education sessions on security. Implement he duo’s tips to minimize your personal cybersecurity risk—your data will thank you.

Educate yourself.

Bobrow says 16 years after 9/11, and 11 years since Hurricane Katrina, more than 50 percent of the planners she works with still don’t have an emergency plan. “It’s not sexy,” she says of security. That makes cybersecurity education sessions, in particular, a tough sell to attendees. But Bobrow and Owen say they’re worth it, not only to learn how vulnerable you are, but also how to protect attendees at your events.

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