How to Mitigate Data Security Risks When Hosting Virtual Events

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Virtual events gained traction since the pandemic began, as teams have had to work and hold meetings virtually. However, virtual events come with numerous security, compliance, and performance risks.

Virtual Event Data SecurityWhat are Virtual Event Data Security Risks?

Virtual events often involve the exchange of sensitive information, such as trade secrets, intellectual property, and personally identifiable attendee data (name, email, etc.). All this information is valuable, which is why hackers constantly attack hosted software providers. They achieve this access by creating fake installation files, forceful intrusion, phishing, sending Trojans horses (or harmful programs in disguise), and spyware attacks. Virtual event platforms also may suffer from performance glitches. All these factors can lead to a poor attendee experience and result.

This article guides you on various risk management strategies so you can deliver problem-free virtual events to your audience.

Control Virtual Event Attendance

Managing speakers, attendees, exhibitors, and stakeholders is crucial for a successful event. An admission policy helps you to filter unwanted attendees who can negatively impact your virtual event arrangement.

To avoid unwelcome guests, implement a strict electronic registration exercise that ensures you only admit the required attendees. A password can be added for an extra layer of security. If your event is for internal employees, consider setting up Single Sign On (SSO) access.

Use a Secure Virtual Event Platform

To mitigate security risks, organizers must select a platform that incorporates security best practices. A secure virtual event platform will fend off hackers and other malicious participants who may harm your event.

When choosing a virtual event platform, make sure good security features are in place. Some of the top questions to ask include:

  • Where (what country) is the platform hosted and data stored?
  • Their policies regarding your data. You’ll want to quickly recover your data if you choose to stop using the service, you’ll want to easily export your data and take it elsewhere.
  • Do they support AES-256 encryption for data storage?
  • Is there a published data retention policy?
  • Ask for a copy of their most recent 3rd party penetration testing. Pen testing helps: avoid financial damage, make sure service is uninterrupted, avoid cyber attacks, access the vendors response time to security threats, protect your reputation. Anything B+ or higher is acceptable (only 5% of vendors score A).
  • Is the platform ISO 27001 certified? Why is this important? It is like buying a house without a 3rd party home inspection. The purpose is to verify that the house is in the condition that the seller claims as advertised for the price. Every provider says their secure, etc. It is the buyers responsibility to ask questions and validate what the provider claims. ISO 27001 certification gives you peace of mind that your employee data is secure. ISO 27001 certification means that a 3rd party has tested technology, systems, processes and controls for you to ensure they meet the highest data security standard. It also means that a 3rd party firm audits the company annually to comply and requires the provider to re-certify completely every three years.
  • Make sure you have a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) in place with your data processor (the virtual conference provider). A DPA is a legally binding document to be entered into between you (the data controller) and the data processor. It regulates the particularities of data processing – such as its scope and purpose – as well as the relationship between the controller and the processor.Why is a DPA important? Data security laws such as GDPR and CCPA require data controllers to take measures to ensure the protection of personal data they handle. If data controllers decide to outsource certain data processing activities, they must be able to demonstrate that their suppliers and sub-processors also provide sufficient guarantees to protect the data and act in a compliant manner.

A virtual event platform that incorporates these features can help you deliver a risk-free event.

Communicate Cyber Safety Best Practices to Attendees

It’s a great idea to brief your attendees on some of the cybersecurity best practices you’d want to maintain throughout the event. You should send out some preventative tips that attendees could act upon quickly.

Some of the things you need to brief your attendees may include:

  • How to use the provided link for registration and login
  • How to use VPN (Virtual Private Networks)
  • How to use secured private Wi-Fi for access to the event
  • Using updated antivirus software to run scans on their PCs before event access
  • Problems with sharing meeting links

Providing these cybersecurity tips to attendees will help you secure your virtual and hybrid events, as the majority of event intrusions and issues occur as a result of human error.

Compliance with Global Regulations

Modern organizations cannot function without third-party software.  It’s also important to consider the fact that many data breaches target cloud software platforms. While this should in no way put you off using cloud-hosted solutions, it does mean you must carefully vet any potential software provider, virtual event platform vendors included.

You must ensure the software you choose meets the compliance demands of your industry and the contents of your events, as well as your internal policies. You should also consider broader-reaching compliance regimes, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which are intended to protect user/attendee privacy across all digital and physical mediums.

Most international privacy laws define two main parties – data processors and data controllers. Data processors are the vendors you work with, such as your event management platform vendor, while your organization is defined as the data controller. Both parties must be aligned when it comes to compliance. Ultimately, you (the Data Controller) is responsible for compliance.

Perform a Pre-Event Rehearsal

If you’re nervous about putting on an event, especially one a large number of people may attend, you can perform a trial run or a rehearsal. A rehearsal helps you map out the experience you want to deliver to your attendees and eliminates any performance glitches that may occur.

The Bottom Line

With these tips, you can protect your event from performance and security risks that often make events flop. By following a few tips before the event occurs, you eliminate most of the risks that may hamper smooth delivery.

Communique Conferencing is a ISO 27001 Certified secure virtual event platform that can help you mitigate security and performance risks when hosting virtual events. The platform comes with lots of built-in performance and security features to help safeguard your online event.