November 18, 2020

How to Hack-Proof Your Virtual Events

With COVID shutdowns, virtual meetings took over, allowing people to stay connected while safely apart. However, with the rise in virtual meetings also came the need to keep unwanted guests from entering meetings – competitors dropping into private meetings, students who didn’t pay for courses were crashing classes, or late registrations allowed in problematic hackers.

Andrea Velasquez, Head of Event Technology with American Meetings Inc. (AMI), a leader in world-wide event management, offers some strategies for keeping your virtual events free from unwanted guests.

“You must find the balance between security and creating roadblocks for attendees. There is a need for the right amount of secrecy, security, and accessibility,” Velasquez begins.

Here are the tips she offers:

Scrub Your Registration Lists

“Only allow attendees from specific emails to register,” she advises. For example, use your database, rather than a general registration portal. Or, if you do open an event’s registration, monitor the list and compare registrants with known promotional databases.

If there is someone registered who you don’t recognize, use that to create a touchpoint – either an automated email or a personal phone call – whichever makes the most sense for your business or event. Follow up with the registrant to determine how they found the event and what they are looking to gain from it.

You can also use campaign tracking to see what methods are grabbing the attendees and use only whitelisted emails. Close the registration early enough to allow you to review the attendance list. This also prevents competitors from jumping into the event last minute without you knowing.

Remove Search Engine Tags

“The tags you use to promote your event can also attract unwanted guests,” Velasquez continues, “Remove these tags and use an API integration instead.”

While an API Integration can cost more, it creates greater security by offering password-protected invitations. This also simplifies the user journey and helps you control who finds and knows about the event.

Only pre-registered attendees have access, which is ideal for high-security virtual meetings. The list of attendees, because it is already pre-approved means there is no additional need for scrubbing. Besides, API platforms continue to do upgrades for security regularly.

“The weakest point is the human because create predictable passwords or share links. If you give the same password to everyone in the event, that is going to be shared. But a platform does the best practice of creating user-specific or randomized passwords,” Velasquez adds.

Use Waiting Rooms

Waiting rooms are important for security as well. Establish waiting rooms and ask attendees to identify themselves through logging in, or introducing themselves rather than starting the meeting immediately. Use your video conferencing platform to screen your audience before letting them in.

Velasquez reminds us: “Often people will use casual names, unknown email addresses or avatars that don’t match expected attendees, so verifying attendance ahead of time will help keep only the right people in attendance.”

To learn more about security in virtual meetings or other ways to make your next event the best it can be, contact AMI today.

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