Did you know James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, has ranked cybercrime as the top national security threat? Higher than terrorism, espionage and weapons of mass destruction?
The cold, hard facts are real: Anyone, at any time, can become a victim of a cyberattack. In fact, the FBI states it isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when this will happen.
In addition, you and your attendees are more vulnerable to such an attack when away from the office or at home. Why? Because in many public spaces the Wi-Fi is free, not password-protected and the security standards are at the lowest network protocol level, which creates an ideal hunting ground for hackers.
Today’s post will focus on the real cost of data breaches and what you can proactively do to prevent them.
The Problem With Cyberattacks
According to IBM, the average cost for a single data breach to a U.S. company is $3.5 million! In addition to the cost, there are other rippling effects from a cyberattack, including:
- The reputation of the event and brand of the company and venue can be damaged by negative PR and reviews.
- Attendees may not come back to the next event and/or they may not have faith in the capabilities of the venue to provide secure Internet access.
- Confidential data may be compromised and held as “ransomware,” a method where hackers keep the data in exchange for a Bitcoin payment.
- Days of lost productivity due to downtime. The Ponemon Institute found the average time to resolve a cyberattack was 45 days.
Your Cybersecurity Checklist
This part may seem like overkill, but as the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Here are eight great tips that can be applied to any off-site venue:
- Make certain you have a dedicated network for your meeting.
Your meeting should be on a different network than hotel employees and leisure guests. Keeping networks partitioned decreases the risk that a data breach will occur.
- Implement a Wi-Fi strong password, exclusively for your group.
The password given by the hotel IT department should be at least 14 characters in length with a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. Once your convention or meeting ends, the password should be cleared and a different password given to the next group.
- Check on the venue’s Wi-Fi security protocol.
Without getting into too much technical jargon, there are three types of protocol a venue can have: WEP, WPA and WPA2. The last one is the best because it deals with encryption, and the first one is the weakest protocol and can easily be broken into.
- Ask the IT staff how often they change their router password.
It’s recommended by IPWatchdog that Wi-Fi router passwords be changed every six months and, of course, use a strong password as noted above.
- If attendees are bringing their own computer, make sure they have antivirus software installed on their computer.
An alarming statistic by IBM states that almost 70 percent of web-based attacks occur because a user’s computer is at risk because either they don’t have antivirus software installed on it or the software is outdated. Send out a reminder to attendees several weeks in advance to remind them to update their software or, better yet, have a “geek squad” on hand the first day of the event to help them do so.
- Find out if the venue has a cybersecurity policy.
This document provides everything from encrypting data to backup methods to handling a crisis in the event of a breach. Ask if you can read it. If it’s confidential, ask the IT manager to share with you verbally how they enforce such policy.
- Determine if they follow best practices in firewall security.
Ask the IT professional the layers of firewall security and how it fits into their cybersecurity plan.
- Discourage the use of hot spots.
Even though attendees and trade show exhibitors alike enjoy using MiFi or personal hot spots, it’s important to remember that approximately 90 percent of public hot spots are unsecure, meaning they can be a hotbed for hackers. Ensure the Wi-Fi access provided by the venue is fast and secure.
Kalahari Works Hard to Protect Your Data
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions will work hand in hand with you to ensure your meeting is at minimal risk for a cyberattack. Give one of our sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 to schedule a site visit and talk personally with our IT staff while on-site!