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Events industry 'not taking online security seriously enough'

Technology expert Jim Spellos says event organisers need to better educate themselves to online dangers

Pictured: Jim Spellos of Meeting U addresses delegates at ibtm america

Event organisers have been warned they aren't taking online security seriously enough, with many not even aware of ways they could be digitally compromised.

Speaking at ibtm america, Meeting U founder James Spellos listed public Wi-Fi networks as potential online hazards, and said event professionals must do more to educate themselves about keeping online material safe.

He said: "I don't believe that many planners or suppliers are taking the digital security issues seriously enough. To me, in an era where risk management mitigation is at the forefront of every group's planning, it puzzles me that the discussion of event digital security, especially when the work can be proactive as opposed to reactive, doesn't get the amount of attention it should. Unless we can as an industry wrap our heads around this problem and share solutions, we'll be at the same point we are now... just reacting to problems and crises, without protecting ourselves and our attendees from the current digital security issues.

"The personal and professional digital security concerns can't be separated, as the two are completely woven together. One click on an infected link could be the digital downfall of an entire organization."

Spellos was addressing a group of event professionals at the industry trade show, which took place in Nashville on 15-17 June.

Speaking to M&IT afterwards, he said most attendees were surprised by how easy it was to be "digitally compromised".

He said: "Even with all of the great efforts by a company's IT department, that the weakest link in the chain has nothing to do with IT's efforts, but the error in judgement of a staff member in responding to a scam such as phishing.

"The fact that a single ransomware infection could lock an entire organisation from accessing any of their digital information is clearly something that while it hasn't happened in our industry yet, it is becoming more and more prevalent of a way that organisations can be compromised. Just think about an organisations data being compromised right before an event. It would be like, in pre-digital days, a planner having all of their event notebooks, conference resumes, registration lists, and BEOs stolen from them just before the conference."

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