Like a Power Lead Without an Earth

How many times have you connected to “Free”“Guest” or “Delegate” WiFi Internet and noticed you could see other devices trying to “Share” with you?  It might be “Sally’s MacBook”“Sam’s_sick_alienware” or “fileserver_1”, but it could just as easily be “hacker”,“competitor” or “virus-infected-netbook”.  While in reality Hackers and Competitors trying to steal your secrets are not common this last one, the unknowing virus victims, with no or out-of-date anti-virus software are out there.

It is fair to say that people should be responsible for securing their own devices from such threats, but is it also fair for Guests and Delegates to assume that connecting to the supplied WiFi will not leave them open to being hacked by the guy at the next booth?  I think it is, so why is it not standard practice?

The answer is simple, domestic un-managed network hardware simply does not give you this option.  Unfortunately in the Event IT market today there are many suppliers approaching data networks in the same fashion as other AV systems, with a signal-flow approach.  Likely they have had no formal training in IT and do not understand the risk being introduced by using the $50 network switch from Rack Shack and $90 access point they bought online.

after all, it works right?

In many cases it does work, and continues to year after year. But the same could be said for a power lead without an earth…..

As an Event Manager, what do you do?

  • Well first, make Network Connectivity a line item in your budget, just like Sound and Lighting, because it costs money to do it properly.

  • Ask questions of the venue or external supplier to understand what you are getting.  If you need help, ask a Communications professional, it needn’t cost the earth to get some consultancy and make sure all your needs are met.

  • Lastly, don’t accept excuses for a poor experience, it’s not black-magic, you can and should expect your Event Network, Internet, Phones and other IT services to be as smoothly delivered as the projectors and drapes.