Protecting Your Mobile Security at Conferences

©2020 Electro-Media Design, Ltd.
By Mehdi Ahmadi 

Multitasking doesn’t cease while attending conferences. We rely on our mobile devices to exchange emails with colleagues between sessions, complete assignments while awaiting presentations, and tackle online personal tasks while in queue for coffee. While a convenience, the use of a venue’s free Wi-Fi leaves your personal data vulnerable to hacker exploitation.

Here are five best practices to keep your mobile devices secure while attending conferences:
  1. Update mobile Operating Systems (OS).
We've all been guilty of it: a prompt for an OS update appears at an inopportune time and we select the option to delay. When receiving the same prompt the following day, we hastily defer due to another distraction. But that delay exposes our devices to vulnerabilities that would otherwise be fixed with the update. These are imperative to the operating system's security and stability. Operating System updates deliver patches to eliminate bugs, improve battery life, fix Wi-Fi connection issues, and improve overall performance. They are often accompanied by new features as well.

Updating iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Devices Updating Android Devices
Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi. Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi.
Open Settings. Open Settings.
Select General. Select About Phone.
Select Software Update. Select Check for Updates.
Select Download. If available, select Update option.
Install. Install.
(You may be prompted to enter your passcode.) (Instructions to install vary depending on the OS.)
  1. Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM).
Mobile Device Management (MDM) is security software installed on corporate devices to support, secure, and maintain a corporate network. Office 365 offers MDM on Apple, Android, and Windows devices. It also has the capability to lock and locate lost devices.
View PC Mag’s recommended MDM tools to provide the best solutions for employee mobile security.
  1. Opt for a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) relies on a variety of security protocols that encrypt data sent and received while utilizing a conference venue’s free Wi-Fi. VPNs deliver increased privacy, additional security, and—because your IP address is hidden—anonymity.
While many equip their laptops with a VPN, cell phones are often overlooked. Ensure your mobile device is configured with a VPN as well.
And remember to turn off your Bluetooth at a conference. Although a convenient technology for hands-free calls, music, and file-sharing, hackers can gain access to your device through its open signal.
  1. Exercise caution when accessing email.
We're all familiar with the "Nigerian prince" email scam, luring recipients into an enticing investment opportunity. Despite its notoriety, this scam still rakes in over $700,000 a year from unsuspecting victims.
Spam and phishing hacks are increasing in sophistication. The most prevalent of these fraudulent attempts to extract sensitive data is phishing. Personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, are solicited by what appear to be reputable entities. Email providers diligently work to filter many of these messages away from your inbox, but some slip through the cracks. Be especially wary of links and attachments in emails from unknown sources. Opt for caution when in doubt.
  1. Install antivirus apps on your devices.
Antivirus software is consistently policing our devices. They protect from malware, spyware, and additional online cyber threats. In its absence, our data is subject to damage and/or deletion. Antivirus software blocks spam, phishing attempts, and defends your device against hackers. Check out the top recommended antivirus apps for both iPhone and Android users.
Bonus Tip:
  1. Ensure Wi-Fi auto-connectivity is turned off.
Most devices are equipped with automatic connectivity options. In theory, this is a great way to maintain an internet connection. But it also puts your devices at risk. Ensure these are set to off during your conference attendance.
Employing these practices will fend off security threats so your attention and enjoyment can be solely focused on conference events.

Bio:  Mehdi Ahmadi is a conference services professional with over 20 years of experience.  He can be reached at

Electro-Media Design Ltd.

973 Russell Ave Suite C
Gaithersburg, MD 20879