"Many corporate companies and event agencies don’t understand the real risks of cyber hacking," said Gijs Verbeek, executive director, MPI Netherlands Chapter, speaking at a seminar on safety and security at the The MPI European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) 2016. "While there is some awareness regarding the threat of terrorism, cyber security is unknown territory."
He added that cyber hacking was a particularly great threat to corporate companies during events and heightened the risk of data theft and potential terrorist attacks.
Gavin Tyzack, commercial director, large events at nh hotel group, said that in many cases, event planners didn’t understand the threat. "A 15-year-old hacked Talk Talk, which shows that the younger generation have a knowledge and understanding of technology that our generation can’t comprehend. If you’re opening a new hotel, these are the kind of risks you need to assess. How safe are the systems? Could they be hacked during a large event?"
He added that there was also a clear link between cyber hacking and terrorism. "Technology is evolving so quickly, it probably won’t be long before you can operate explosives through the internet, for example. We’re not trying to scare anyone in the industry, but it’s important to be aware."
Verbeek added that agencies, corporates and venues have a responsibility to make cyber security a priority. "It doesn’t just fall to venues. Event planners should be hiring experts and taking further measures to protect themselves and their clients."
He added that while more people had ramped up security requests since the Paris attacks, cyber security was still an untapped area. "People are paying more attention - for example, requesting additional bodyguards. But there is still very little understanding about the threat of cyber hacking."
• For more breaking news, as well as in-depth features and case studies, sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker here