Friday, September 02, 2005

Planners beware of Internet Security Risks

A few days ago, I was booking a site inspection at a major Las Vegas hotel. As expected, the meeting manager quoted our rooms, and asked for a credit card to hold them. What was unexpected was that the manager not only sent me back a confirmation via email, but also sent all my credit card information in the body of the email! I was horrified! Email is not secure.

Did you know that there are computer programs that can literally intercept every single email you send and receive? This is called Wire Tapping.

This is a major problem.

I asked for her supervisor, who was a high-ranking manager. I informed the manager of the potential security breach, and was told with authority that “we are the largest gaming casino in the country and our email is secure.” This was standard practice!!

If you are doing business with a company who sends your credit card, social security number or any private information about you or your company via email, complain to the highest possible ranking officer in that corporation, and if it’s your credit card, start checking your credit report. If you used a company credit card, notify the company you work for to start checking for fraud.

Please don’t believe anyone who tells you email is secure. Never transmit, or permit someone else to transmit your credit card information and address via email. The federal trade commission (link to the site) is reporting identity theft via email on their site as one way that hackers get your personal information.

The manager offered to mark my account and make sure that this doesn’t happen again. I’m not that sure that it will, and what about all the other planners who will be exposed to fraud? I realized that this issue is one that will require serious pressure from the planning industry. Please share this blog with all your planning colleges and make sure that you are clear with each location about the insecure nature of email.