5 Tips for Protecting Yourself From Cyberattacks

By Matt Swenson, May 15, 2017

Michael Owen, managing partner at EventGenuity LLC, sums up the vulnerability we all have to cyberattacks like the ongoing global ransomware crisis on a daily basis: “Convenience is the enemy of security.” In the world of the Internet of Things—where car keys, refrigerators, microwaves and even electric wheelchairs are vulnerable to hackers—business travelers are perhaps the most 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 the duo’s five tips to minimize your personal cybersecurity risk—your data will thank you.

1. 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.

2. SET PRIORITIES.

Because you can’t (and shouldn’t plan) for every possible danger, Bobrow suggests planning contingencies for scenarios most likely to occur. For instance, you probably don’t have to worry about a hurricane in California, but earthquakes, fires and floods are a real concern. Owen notes this philosophy extends to data. What information might hackers be most interested in? The most likely answer is personal information like social security numbers. If you need to have a list with coveted information, place it on a device you won’t plug into a public outlet or connect a USB cable to.

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