No one wants to think it could happen to them, but your chances of being hacked are growing every year. Here are five things you need to stop doing now to keep your meetings safer:

1. Allowing speakers to plug unknown presentation flashdrives into your system. Those flashdrives could pass on malware disguised as legitimate software, explained MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, president of Bobrow Associates, and Jonathan Howe, Esq., founding partner and president of Howe and Hutton, Ltd., during a session at the American Society of Association Executives 2016 Annual Meeting. Make it mandatory that speakers have their flashdrives scanned for viruses. This could be done in the speaker-ready room.

2. Plastering your meeting’s Wi-Fi password all over the meeting venue. While it’s convenient to make the password obvious, it also makes it easy for cyber criminals to hack your system, said Bobrow and Howe. You may also want to remind attendees and vendors not to share the password with anyone who is not an official participant.

3. Using the hotel meeting passcode as your meeting’s Wi-Fi passcode. As technology meeting consultant Brandt Krueger says, “Even if the password is 12345 and you put it on every piece of paper in the venue, it’s still more secure than an open Wi-Fi.”

4. Allowing your staff members to download their own software. At the very least, train them on cybersecurity policies and procedures around downloading unapproved apps, both on their work devices and any personal device that could connect with a work device, that could pass along malware, said Bobrow and Howe.

5. Ignoring the issue. Burying your head in the sand only ensures that you’ll miss the early warning signs. Develop a policy and a plan for what you will do before, during, and after a breach, and train your staff so, should the worst occur, you know how to mitigate the risks.

Stay Tuned
The Convention Industry Council Accepted Practices Exchange Standards Committee recently launched the APEX Cybersecurity Workgroup to find out how aware planners are of potential cyber threats, and how prepared they are for an attack against their organization, their meetings, and their attendees.