Let’s face it. As a venue, cyber crime is the one problem you could do without.
Known as something of a ‘hidden expense’, you’d be surprised to hear any venue talking positively about their online security methods. The issue is that the threat posed by cyber criminals invariably focuses on something venues now have to provide: wi-fi.
It’s fair to say we could do without cyber crime, but we cannot do without the measures to prevent it.
Why does it matter?
According to a UK government survey, 32% of UK businesses were the subject of breaches or cyber attacks in 2019, with an average damage bill of £4,180. Among those targeted, the report found that:
• 32% needed to invest in new measures to prevent future attacks
• 27% allocated resource to deal with breaches or attacks
• 19% of cases had staff pausing their daily work
• 48% identified at least one breach or attack per month
When we talk with anyone connected to the events industry - whether an organiser or a venue - about the importance of investing in cyber security, the conversation takes a nosedive. You’re essentially telling someone to invest time and money into something they can’t see, feel or generate a return from.
It’s only when people take a step back and realise how the world is changing that we appreciate the value of protecting ourselves against new threats.
Crime, much like shopping and banking, is going online. Think about your last session on a wi-fi connection and everything you logged into, entered and shared. Now imagine the value this could have in the wrong hands.
Security breaches can result in serious financial and reputational damage. Much like you wouldn’t think twice about investing in high-quality doors and locks for your venue, or even a security team for a bigger event, you can’t afford to cut corners with your wi-fi.
How to protect yourself
As the intermediary between you and your attendees, your wireless connection will see hordes of sensitive data passing through it. Luckily the methods of shielding that information require more from your side and less from your visitors, meaning the threat and protective measures are very much hidden.
As the wi-fi administrator, you should defend your seat at all costs. Start by switching any basic log-in credentials (e.g. “admin” as a username, “1234” as a password) to prevent your connection settings being altered in any way.
You should also deploy two separate wi-fi networks: one for the event organiser and one for attendees. That’s not to say one side is more important than the other. It does, however, reduce the payload of an attack should the culprit find a way into a system that houses both. You certainly don’t want to give them unnecessary opportunities to steal attendee data or manipulate connected devices used for registration and projection.
In terms of the connection itself, you should enquire with your network provider about the measures used to thwart Man in the Middle or “MITM” attacks. These see the attacker intercepting communications between a device (usually a smartphone or tablet) and the router, leading to the capture of information and potential control of both devices.
Many out-of-the-box security programmes will aim to protect your connection and devices from MITM attacks. Otherwise, try these four simple tips:
1. VPN: Virtual Private Networks can offer better encryption, which essentially limits the attackers’ chances of identifying traffic passing through your network. Remember: if they can’t read it, they can’t use it.
2. HTTPS: Websites using the HTTPS standard are able to encrypt the data exchanged between them and their users. The older HTTP grade makes it easier to see this data. That’s why you should change your network settings to only allow browsing on HTTPS sites, thus giving you an edge over the attackers.
3. Logs: Don’t worry – it’s not another acronym to remember! Activity logs should be made by an IT worker to highlight any suspicious movements on the network. On that note, it’s always recommended to have someone in charge of network security in order to record and make sense of this data. Otherwise, it becomes redundant.
Remember that any connected hardware like printers, laptops and projectors should be running the latest versions of firmware when an event comes around. While keeping on track with the latest updates might seem like a chore, the vast majority of them are made to patch up vulnerabilities in security, which could be exploited on old systems.
Of course, this is pointless if a hacker manages to get into the device through the front door, so again, you should also use strong log-in credentials to safeguard your network.
We get it - you’ve got enough on your plate. And protecting yourself against cyber criminals is probably fairly low on your list of priorities. Yet, with trends showing that over a third of UK businesses will be targeted by hackers this year, here’s our advice: upgrade your protective measures before it’s too late!
About the author
This content was provided by EventsCase: the leading all-in-one event management platform, offering advanced functionality and data protection. For more information, visit EventsCase.com.