A new computer virus threat is sending event professionals scrambling to secure documents as breaches are being reported by organizations large and small across the world. The ransomware, being called NotPetya because of the computer code used, takes a similar approach to the WannaCry attacks in May that locked documents on as many as 75,000 computers, including NHS personal computers. Like the previous virus, victims receive a message on their screen telling them that their files have been encrypted and they will have to pay to get access. The attacks have hit infrastructure companies hard and may have led to flight delays at an airport in Kiev and the Ukraine.
Although many have already followed best practices and updated Windows operating software with patches since that event, officials are reporting that even those computers are vulnerable. While hackers continue to get more sophisticated and find new ways around security systems all the time, this is a reminder that event professionals, who often travel and use public internet access, need to use best security practices at all times.
Matti Kon, a security expert and president and CEO of InfoTech Solutions for Business shared these simple tips for protecting yourself and your attendees at events and on the road.
1. Install anti-virus software and keep it current.
While some features of anti-virus software can seem inconvenient, the time spent typing in passwords will be insignificant compared to losing data or the embarrassment of accidently spreading a virus to clients. Firewalls and intrusion-detection software can further help to minimize threats. Virus scanners can also protect from possible problems on flash drives and documents from speakers accessing your computers for presentations.
2. Routinely change passwords.
Again, the inconvenience of memorizing new, more complex passwords can seem counterproductive, but the first time a hacker tries “password1234” and gets in, will be the last time that person uses it. Unfortunately, in a world of frequent attacks that is lived even more often online, variations on a theme can leave vital information vulnerable.
3. Practice safe open Wi-Fi.
When in public places like coffee shops, airports, hotels and conference centers, ensure that you are using the hotel’s actual Wi-Fi. When possible, create your own VPN for added protection. Then immediately disconnect when you are done and erase traces of connectivity from your device.
Disable file-sharing or system access rights on your laptop, computer or PDA device, and secure the browser by forcing the use of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) as well.
4. Rely on experts.
For additional protection when hosting offsite events, IT outsourcing firms can run penetration tests on systems to assure that firewalls and Wi-Fi networks are secure and correctly routed.