Use these simple tips to ensure your attendees’ personal information is secure and keep unwanted visitors out of your virtual events
You’re ten minutes into the opening talk at your charity’s virtual event, when someone you don’t know starts shouting about some political cause or screaming obscenities. Then all your attendees start to receive abusive emails from the same individual.
It’s a nightmare scenario, and one that demonstrates very clearly the need for virtual event security to prevent the nightmare from actually happening.
There’s another side to virtual event security too. In order to run a virtual event, your charity will need to collect personal information about delegates who want to attend. That information has to be kept secure. If that information is stolen by a hacker, it could harm the reputation of your charity - as well as proving very costly.
So, what steps should you take to keep your charity virtual events secure?
If the event is very small, with only a handful of attendees, then you might well decide to use a video conferencing application such as Zoom. You can email attendees the meeting ID and passcode and run the virtual event like a standard conference call.
To avoid the risk of unwelcome attendees joining your call and causing disruption (sometimes known as Zoombombing), you should take the following precautions:
If you are running a larger scale virtual event, then you will almost certainly want to use a virtual event platform to help you run it efficiently and securely. These software platforms allow you to split the event into multiple streams, offer live and "on-demand" sessions, record live sessions for later viewing, operate break-out rooms, and make it easy for delegates to network with each other.
But perhaps the most important feature from a security standpoint is that most allow attendees to register online before the event. Before registration opens you may choose to load the system with the email addresses of everyone who has been invited to attend, to prevent unwanted registrations from unknown people. Alternatively, you may allow registration to be open to all.
When delegates register, they choose their own password, and at the end of the process they are sent a personal link to the event. Each link should be individual, so only the person with that link, and who knows their own password, can join the event. This helps prevent anyone who gains access to the link from joining unless they also know the password.
Popular event management software includes:
Other security measures that should be in place include:
If your charity uses virtual event software then it is likely to store personal information such as names and email addresses, so it is essential that the software is used securely – not least to ensure you comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In practice that means that you (or any other charity staff member who is helping to manage the virtual event) should: