The Cyber Security Ecosystem and Online Events
The importance of cyber security cannot be stressed enough, especially in today’s world where most of our business and sensitive data is captured online. Many of us have no idea how, or where, our data gets stored. We provide our personal information — name, email address and cell phone number — at the drop of a hat, but where is it going? Who has control over all of our private information?
“At Flock, we believe in using event tech to help our clients create meaningful connections with their audience but are also very aware of the importance of data protection. Which is why myself and the team stay up-to-date and speak to experts to help inform our clients, attendees and guests on the best cyber security practices,” says Mike Lysko, Founder and CEO of Flock Eventing Platform.
Flock engaged with leading cyber security expert, Andrew Henwood, at the recent Top Event Trends of 2021 Webinar, to pick his brain on some of the ways businesses and consumers can ensure cyber security and keep their personal information safe.
“I always say to people that we are an ecosystem, and we all need to do our part to ensure that we are taking security seriously,” says Henwood, Director of Cyber Security Services at Blck Rhino. Henwood emphasises the need for a universal approach to secure cyber environments as well as the importance of complying with legislation and standard compliance practices, such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA). PoPIA was passed in 2013 and ensures that all South African institutions handle and process personal data responsibly and ethically and that at the same institutions are held accountable if they prove not to do so.
In line with Henwood’s recommendations, Flock Eventing Platform has put together a list of what you need to know about staying safe online. Whether you’re a business owner, event planner, or attendee, we’ve covered the basics in cyber security and how to keep one’s confidential data secure.
Tips for Event Planners
- Know what data you are asking for and how to store it securely
If a company or online event is requesting personal information, it is imperative that they are able to discern whether that information is sensitive or not. “You’ve got to understand what you are storing, because if you don’t know exactly what you are storing it is very difficult to protect the data that you are gathering from these events,” says Henwood. If it is sensitive, then it needs to be immediately secured. The sensitive data has to have a clear trajectory, from the time it is provided to when it is securely stored.
Henwood offers that, “there is no right or wrong way to do this but there are certain steps that you need to take as a diligent corporate or end user citizen to make sure we enhance the security around that data.”
- Never promise full security
Can you, as an online event provider, ever provide full reassurance that all personal data provided during an event will be kept fully secure?
“No, no, no, don’t ever say that, please. Well, there is one way to guarantee complete security – don’t run the event or collect anyone’s data,” is Andrew Henwood’s honest answer. Everyone is vulnerable in cyberspace and if you claim to be invulnerable, then you are merely putting a target on your back for potential hackers to prove you wrong. All you can provide is assurance that you are aware of the sensitive nature of the data and that you are doing everything you can — complying with safety and security standards, such as the PoPIA — to keep personal data safe.
- Be prepared
Always prepare for the worst. If you expect to be ‘Zoombombed’ (an uninvited guest crashes your Zoom meeting and usually shares inappropriate content) or hacked during an event, you can plan for it and make sure you have contingencies in place so that you aren’t completely annihilated. If you are someone who hosts regular online events, you will most likely be, or have already been, hacked during an event. Hackers see online events as easy targets.
“It is a reality, you are going to get hacked if you run online events, they are going to target you, they are going to attempt to do things. So, plan for the unexpected especially from a cyber security perspective and it will stand you in far greater stead,” says Henwood.
Tips for Attendees
- Do your bit
In order to maintain a healthy digital ecosystem, you have to make sure your computer and online environment is as secure as possible. If you are joining an online event from a vulnerable computer, you are putting all the attendees as well as the company at risk. Familiarise yourself with online best practices, such as securing your computer with antivirus software. If you are downloading programs from the internet, make sure you trust where the program is coming from. It must be from a legitimate source, with its own antivirus protections. Andrew Henwood emphasises the importance of encouraging “good digital hygiene because we are all part of the same ecosystem, and, as an attendee you definitely want to make sure you are doing the basics that are established best practice.”
- Know who you are giving your data to
Once you click ‘Submit’ on a personal information form, you can’t get that information back. Before you submit anything, even if it seems like a legitimate source, always make sure that it is verified and that it follows PoPIA.
- Don’t share links on public forums or with non-attendees
If you’ve been invited to a private event, respect the wishes of the event organisers and keep it private. If you share the link on a public forum or to someone untrustworthy, you are opening yourself, as well as other attendees, up to being hacked or Zoombombed.
Flock Eventing Platform has a team of event specialists that endeavour to contribute towards a safe online environment by making sure all events and event organisers are fully prepared and up-to-speed with all regulations. Visit Flock Eventing Platform and book a demo before your next event.