Conference Organizers Need to Keep Data Secure or be WikiLeaked

Welcome 2011, I am here to say that this will probably be a bigger year for WikiLeaks than 2010, especially since Mr Julian Assange is about to get into the Corporate Stupidity Game rather than sticking to the Governmental Stupidity Game.

Love him or hate him, he is one bad mother $#&*$#*& for a geek.

I was over at the Post reading an article about how Bank of America has now deployed their counterintelligence team to combat what will be a 5GB mountain of hell aimed at all of their evil-doing….By the way, if your bank has a counterintelligence unit, that should give you pause.

This article got me thinking about how our loose-lipped little geek actually gets his information and I think that I may have an answer that is easier than all of the cloak and dagger shit being formulated.

Someone may have just walked off with it.

Events, conferences, and meetings have some of the worst security known to man and a lot of data simply walks away. Even when an event has security, it is usually to keep out people that are not registered. The registered are already in and may be the culprit.

Case in point. I was working with a Pharma Client a few year’s back and directly after the day’s sessions they had networking event that involved drinks. Some of the Pharma client’s middle managers got a few in them and at the end of the event, two managers got up from the table and left…. they left….. they left without grabbing their laptop bags from under the table. Anyone could have picked them up. Luckily it was me that recovered them, knew the individuals and called their cell phones to get them back to the scene of the almost crime. Hello WikiLeaks…

A person who was registered for this event and ready to do bad stuff would have had all the opportunity needed to grab those laptops and simply walk out.

Another example is the computers that you have at registration desks and other public areas. Many organizations use computers that staff use daily in the course of their regular duties trying to save a dime. This is a BAD idea. First, many different people will have access to the data on these computers, especially if you have temps helping to man the reg desks. Reg desks also tend to be  high traffic areas that are ripe for picking when people are not or cannot pay 100% attention.

Another potential data source for would be WikiLeaker’s are flash drives. Those 4 and 8GB models sure do hold a ton of stuff and it is amazing how many morons (including me) tend to forget them and leave them laying any old place like in a computer for a presentation, on a table or you loan it to someone who needs a helping hand.

I just finished producing an event here in Chicago we recovered 20…………….20 Flash Drives! Many of them were so packed with data that we will never know who to get them back too and I am not sure that I want that burden (they are destroyed). In this case, it pays to have a few unused units laying around for loading presentations and loaning to forgetters.

The moral of the story is this, protect your shit if you do not want to be on the 11 o’clock news, in a courtroom or in a legal battle with WikiLeaks.

Password protection is great, but there are people out there that can crack any nut so that does not always work.

It is far easier to dedicate a few, cheap laptops that carry as little data as possible so that when they do get lifted, lost or crash at your next event, you can simply replace them with an “oh well”  smile on your face rather than a look of terror, humiliation or “oops, Bob is going to jail” induced WikiPanic.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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