Pashara Black - Sep 11, 2019

More Than A Meal: Cybersecurity Lessons from the Meals on Wheels National Conference

Each year, Meals on Wheels of America hosts senior nutrition and nonprofit professionals from across the country at their annual conference to convene around one thing: how to better support our senior neighbors to extend their independence and health as they age. The conference includes breakout sessions, keynotes, networking opportunities, an expo, and more. So, what is a cybersecurity professional doing at a MOW conference and how does this tie into the work we are doing here at StrongKey?

For context, I serve on the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels of Durham and have been doing so for over a year. I was originally invited by the organization’s Executive Director to join the Board and assist with strategic planning, trustee work, and the planning of their annual gala. Whether you’re a security professional, or part of industries like medicine, sales, or banking, serving on a board has direct benefits in relation to helping you perform better in your primary role. There is a ton of research on this, but see for yourself. Because I manage events in my primary role, the experience I get through my Board work directly aligns with what I do professionally. It gives me a different perspective and a different environment to sharpen my skillset. It also broadens my network and, thus, increases the amount of individuals on whom I can draw for expertise. If you’re looking for help on how to join a Board, here are a few tips.

Now back to security. It’s one of those things you don’t know that you need until you need it; kind of like insurance. However, any professional in the industry will tell you that you absolutely need it. Just like you don’t want to wait until a hurricane hits to buy flood insurance, you also don’t want to wait until a cyberattack to protect your data. As of September 2019, 4 billion records (including credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and other highly sensitive data) have been compromised. Additionally, seniors are the most targeted group when it comes to scams and fraud, so whom better to protect than our most vulnerable population?

The MOW Annual Conference included sessions such as: "It’s All About the Data, Technology, Systems, Software and Saving Solutions," "The ABCs of Compliance," and "How to Prevent and Recognize Elder Financial Exploitation." These were all directly or indirectly tied into what we do here at StrongKey (protect your most sensitive data), but here are my major takeaways from the conference:

  1. Data Doesn’t Have to Be Scary – If your primary role does not require a quantitative skillset, it can be easy to shy away from the topic. However, data is everywhere. It’s one of the most powerful tools out there, and when used correctly can be tremendously beneficial to you and your company. I would suggest starting out by attending a few meetups or catch a webinar on a relevant topic. This is a low-pressure way to get your feet wet and gain a surface level understanding of how to protect your data.
  2. There’s Room for Growth with Protecting the Elderly Population – Financial exploitation of seniors is, unfortunately, very common and without the resources or individuals to protect them, they remain vulnerable. Here are a few tips on how to protect the elderly from cyberattacks.
  3. No Matter the Industry, Everyone Needs to Protect Their Data – Whether it’s the medical field, hospitality, or financial institutions, breaches are a mainstay in the media. If your company collects and stores data, you’re vulnerable. A breach of a company could lead to detrimental results that are sometimes irreversible. It’s important to put the proper protocol and tools in place to protect both your data and your company. This is where the insurance analogy comes into play.

As I continue to grow both in the cybersecurity field as well as a good steward of my community by serving on a Board, I look forward to doing my part to make sure that the information of individuals stays safe. If you would like to learn more about how StrongKey is making data breaches irrelevant, request a free security assessment here.