Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Like it or not, event management is increasingly becoming a highly technological field – particularly where mobile’s concerned. The power and efficiency that smartphones and tablets bring to the table for event organizers and their teams are just too incredible to ignore. As a result, we’re seeing mobile devices being utilized in an increasingly diverse fashion within the event industry.
There’s just one problem – in a lot of cases, those devices might not necessarily be secure.
See, here’s the thing about mobile. Although it may well be one of the most powerful productivity enhancement tools in human history, it can also be a double-edged sword if your event firm approaches it without the necessary expertise. There are certain best practices you’ll need to engage in if you want to enjoy all the advantages of mobile technology without having to deal with its threats.
Today, I’m going to go over a few of the most important. Follow these when setting up your mobile event platform, and it should pretty much be clear sailing. Let’s get started.
Set Up Remote Wipe On Staff Devices
Events tend to be incredibly busy, bustling venues. As such, it’s not entirely uncommon for someone to set their phone down for a few moments, only to have it go missing. If this should happen to one of your event staff, you could potentially be looking at a ton of sensitive data that’s now in the hands of an unscrupulous third party. That’s why it’s important to have remote wipe and remote lock enabled on all devices used by your employees.
That way, if a device ends up getting stolen, whoever took it isn’t going to be able to access anything they shouldn’t. This can also come in handy if there ends up being a bad seed in your own group.
Be Careful What Apps You Use
Back in July 2013, a rather disturbing statistic began to circulate – somewhere over 80% of the top 100 free and paid mobile applications on both Android and iOS leak private data to third parties. What that means, of course, is that if someone is using those applications in a business environment, they could potentially be allowing sensitive corporate information to find its way onto the web. The same is true of any system on which you’ve a mobile event platform installed.
What I’m saying here is that if you’re planning to use an application on the same device as your event platform, you want to make sure that application is secure. Check your event platform too, while you’re at it. You don’t want to take any chances here.
As far as attendee devices go, the only advice I can give you here is to make sure that whatever mobile app you provide them with to connect to your conference is designed with security in mind first and foremost – it should utilize strong encryption, store any data it gathers in a secure location, and require decent authentication. Basically, just stress to whoever’s developing your app that security is one of your chief concerns, and they should (hopefully) take care of the rest.
Mandate Best Practices For Personal Phones – Or Failing That, Containerize
If you’re using a mobile event platform, then there’s a good chance that the majority of your volunteers are going to be connecting to it on their personal devices. I’ve seen very few events that provide staff with their own smartphones, after all – few have the budget for it (or really, any justifiable reason to do so). Ideally, you want to avoid giving any of your volunteers access to sensitive information regarding the event.
Senior event staff is another matter, of course – chances are they’re going to be the ones managing personally identifiable information, budget data, etc.
For both camps, you’re going to want to lay down a list of mobile best practices. Make sure it’s clear that your employees should never leave their phones unattended, stress to them the importance of connecting a secure WiFi connection, and talk to them about some of the software-related risks of the mobile world. Ignorance is often a greater threat to private data than hackers – do what you can to quash it at your event.
Make Sure You Have Secure WiFi
You’d be surprised (and maybe a little unnerved) to see just how much data can be leaked through an unsecured WiFi connection. For that reason, it’s imperative that the WiFi at your event is secure; you might also consider setting up a private, secondary network for volunteers to use. Especially at a corporate trade show or conference, there’s probably a ton of valuable data being sent through the Internet – enough to make such events a veritable gold mine for anyone willing to put in the effort.
You don’t want to let that data leak out. Make sure your WiFi is secure and that the information sent through it is encrypted.
Install Antimalware Tools On All Devices
Mobile malware is definitely a threat – don’t let anyone tell you any different. It’s imperative that you ensure there’s antimalware software installed on every single device that could potentially be managing sensitive data. See, the days when people coded viruses exclusively to wreak havoc are pretty much behind us.
The majority of malware now is ransomware – vicious software that holds a device (and the information it contains) hostage until the owner pays out a certain sum to the application’s developer. Nasty stuff; and stuff you don’t want anywhere near your events.
Know What Devices Are Being Used On Your Team
Although this piece of advice tends to apply more to tightly-controlled corporate networks than teams of volunteers and event partners, it’s nevertheless important that you keep a careful inventory of each and every mobile device that’s being used by your team. Installation statistics for your event app can help you keep track of this pretty easily, and you can make a few personal notes to chart out who has access to what information.
The reason I advise you to do this is simple – if you know what devices are being used with your platform, you’ll not only know what sorts of threats they might face, but also whether or not they’re being used properly on the show floor.
Allow Your Staff Some Degree Of Freedom
This is a big one – and it’s one that I can’t stress enough. If you mandate an extremely narrow list of allowed devices or applications, you’re going to end up with a ton of frustrated event staff. If the solutions you do allow are difficult to use, then they’re probably going to turn to an alternative, third-party option. There’s a good chance, furthermore, that said third party option isn’t safe or secure.
Make sure there’s some variety in the choices you offer your event staff – otherwise, there’s a very good chance that they’ll choose something you can’t support.
Educate Everyone – Including Attendees
As I said earlier, the greatest threat to mobile security is neither malware nor hackers – it’s simple human ignorance. You can do your part to fight that ignorance by offering everyone at your event (including your volunteers and attendees) a crash course on mobile safety. For attendees, it could be something as simple as a pamphlet or brochure explaining to them how they can keep their devices safe. For event staff, you can get a little more comprehensive, setting up a classroom to explain to them every detail of mobile security – and how they can be more secure in how they use their device.
Avoid Bluetooth Wherever Possible
Believe it or not, Bluetooth is actually a relatively unsecure protocol. There exists a ton of vulnerabilities in how two Bluetooth devices connect to one another, and these vulnerabilities can be used by a savvy individual to siphon data from either device (or both). Keep Bluetooth off if you can afford it – most Bluetooth connections are little more than a hole in your security.
When In Doubt, Bring In An Expert
As an event organizer, you’re going to be making heavy use of mobile technology to help you run your events – and that’s awesome. That doesn’t mean you need to be a tech wiz or Smartphone genius in order to do so, however. Provided you don’t really have the time to study and master the technical side of mobile security, I’d advise that you keep at least a few IT professionals on staff – or at least on call – to help you with matters of security, encryption, etc.
Mobile technology may well be one of the most revolutionary technological advances the human race has seen in the past century. They’ve completely changed both how we communicate and how we do business. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in event management.
It’s important to understand (or at least see to) security if you want to enjoy any of the fruit mobile has to offer. There are too many risks for it to be otherwise, honestly.
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