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Interviews

Meetings and event security

Giselle Ripken, pictured, of Grass Roots Meetings & Events discusses the importance of security as technology continues to advance at a rapid rate.

Security in the modern age is of the upmost importance. Whether it is protecting data or creating a safe environment for people – security is now high on the agenda for us all. The recent events in Paris have only served to highlight the fact that security can no longer be treated as a secondary issue. Events and organisers across the globe must be prepared to tackle ever-changing threats whether that comes physically or digitally. Many event agents do view this seriously but unfortunately they lack the processes and the capabilities to secure events. Perhaps therefore we can work more closely with the security sector to achieve best practice for all involved.

Earlier in the year I read of a security warning in Australia following the leak of personal data for thousands of conference delegates after a breach. A hacker accessed a server which contained details including names, addresses, emails and passwords of all the delegates attending the company’s recent conferences and events. It’s a serious breach and one they have now hopefully learnt from.

As a specialist in delegate management, which includes the retention of personal information, I consider it an imperative that the processes around data and its security are as meticulous as possible. All too often we hear of situations where data and personal details are ‘just the administration’ or indeed the boring part of event management. This is a grave error, it creates a significant risk when the securing of data should be considered the upmost importance by anyone in business.

By their very nature events tend to be temporary which in some instances leads to complacency around the care of event related information and occasionally the attitude that the data itself is temporary and therefore less important. This is clearly not the case when you consider that personal information around an event can include names, addresses, passport details and payment methods. Even more important can be an individual’s itinerary, which tends to be a part of an event’s data. It might not sound much but whether it is a junior or a high ranking CEO – security should be at the forefront of your mind for all events.

Data management and security should be of the highest priority. The technology needs to be upgraded frequently, whilst dedicated teams of data professionals should undergo regular training and assessment. This approach, which should include monitoring and vigilance against attacks helps deliver excellence in all areas of security and should always be considered.

So how can you ensure security at all levels? Investing in a system and support to improve both physical and virtual security is essential. Expertise and compliance in this area can ensure security is tight from the very foundation of the business. Week in and week out, we are besieged with news stories about celebrities having pictures leaked or delegate details being sold across the internet following a major leak – there is no shame in asking for help and support to ensure your business does not suffer a similar fate.

The meetings and events industry in particular needs to take a collective approach to ensure delegate data is secure. You’d be surprised at the amount of professionals within this industry that don’t even have a secure password attached to some of their most important accounts. Perhaps it is time that our industries worked more closely together to ensure data security is at the forefront of business’ priorities? In fact the opportunity goes beyond just tech based security – on-site staff need training and it’s often the simple things such as not leaving operational files in hotels or venues after an event; and ensuring clear disposal and shredding is carried out.

In an age where technology is quite literally taking over – can businesses really afford to gamble with their delegate security?


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