Troubled About Your Digital Security? 3 Things to Know

Jim Spellos is the author of this guest blog. SGMP is fortunate to call Jim a friend as he has been a past NEC speaker.  You can explore more of who Jim is by visiting his website, and be sure to follow his socials!
Everywhere you turn, everything you read, there are discussions about how we all need to re-capture our online privacy.  From the recent GDPR regulations in the European Union, to the seemingly endless Facebook, Google and Alexa privacy issues, one thing is certain.  We need to take control of our security.  

All of us, within the meetings industry and beyond, need to take a better, more proactive look at our online practices.  While I could write a novel about why I'm more concerned about my security than I am about my privacy, this piece is to make sure you are using 3 tools that will greatly help you stay safe online.

As an industry, we are more vulnerable than many others to digital security intrusions, since we're on the road, using open WiFi networks to keep us connected.  From hotels to coffee shops, these access points can be very useful for us as long as we are aware that these networks are very unsecure.   It is easy for a person, equipped with free tools they can get online, to be able to see everything you type unless you protect that information.   The easiest way to do so is to have a VPN  (Virtual Private Network) on all of your devices.

If your organization provides one for you, that's awesome.   Make sure you always use it when you're in a public WiFi area.   But what about if they don't, or if you're using a device that is not protected by your company?   That's where you need to have a personal VPN app.  In the simplest terms, a VPN service encrypts (conceals) everything you type on your computer, from anyone near you trying to get your information.   Personally, I use a tool called Tunnel Bear, but there are a number of very good tools out there to keep your private information private.

Password Manager
Do you ever use the same password for multiple sites?  If you're like most people, you do, and you are treading dangerously by doing so.  If a hacker accesses a password of yours (either by your own error or by hacking into a company's database), it's easy for them to see if that password is being used by you on other sites (eg. banks, airline, shopping sites).  A password manager is a tool that allows you to have incredibly long, unique passwords for every site you visit.  All you need to have is a single master password for your account to protect you.  This master password should be very long, and not easy for a person to guess (the names of your kids and spouse in one long string is not a very good password).  Be aware that the password managers (I use Dashlane, and there are many other good ones) don't keep your master password, so make sure not to lose it.

Two Factor Authentication
If you've ever entered a password, then were texted a numeric code to be sure it was you, then you have used Two Factor Authentication.  Almost all of the major online sites (Google, Facebook, Dropbox) make this available to you.  So why is it important?   If someone does get your password, then they would still need your phone to be able to enter the texted code and have access to your account.  Simple, yet very effective.

So, three things to know to help protect your digital security: VPN, Password Manager, and Two Factor Authentication.   If you're concerned about staying safe online, then these three tools are essential.