New Continental Hotel, Millbay Road, Plymouth, PL1 3LD

Tel: 01752 276798

A Roma Bar Chat | This Time About Being CYBER Safe

The Roma Bar – It’s All About The Chit Chat!

Elinor Eaton, Development Manager for the New Continental Hotel and Strathmore House Apartments shares her Roma Bar Chit Chat!

It’s a current landscape that is vastly different from the one we knew twenty years ago, when many of us were already in our professional field.

Twenty years ago, for many businesses it was all about the shop front. You would put adverts in the local paper and join networking groups nearby and hope, with all your might, that people would need what you sold. Some extended their markets by sending sales people out on the road, with samples and a notebook of prices. They would be armed with Carbon Paper at the ready for orders; then they would whisk them back to the office, pack up the items and deliver them to their customers.

Twenty years doesn’t feel like that long ago; but the change we have seen, some gradual some instantaneous, is vast. Innovations, new ways of thinking and new needs, met with the inception of the Internet has created a very new platform for business.

A business became no longer dependent on its local customer base for its survival; nor so much on an individual member of staffs knowledge of a product or service. Things were at our fingertips and very different to our old norm!

The internet quickly became a vast and beautiful entity that allowed us all unprecedented access to information, the likes of which we had never seen before, or even been able to imagine!

A FAX was a magical thing; EMAILS just blew minds!

Roll on twenty years and we have never before had as much access to knowledge as we do today, and that’s all thanks to the internet. Yet with this creation, for many of us, has come with it a huge amount of uncertainty and some fear. It empowers and enable us to work smarter; but we have to be smarter too…in areas that still sometimes feels like something from a science fiction novel!

I felt like I was at a pretty ‘ok’ level of understanding and knowledge when it came to cyber-safety. As a hotel we work with a local company called Acronyms who support us on all levels of IT, including our Wi-Fi and guests safety.  Yet last week, when I sat in on a very interesting chat in the Roma Bar, I realised that although we all use the internet now for work and in our every days, and we all have very different levels of understanding when it comes to our safety.

I was sat with a lady and  gentleman who shared similar roles; out on the road having meetings and making sales – but they had very different backgrounds.

My Meeting With Jess & Richard…

Although I was due to finish work for the day and was on my way out, for 30 minutes we spoke at length about the ‘trials and tribulations of a road warrior in 2019’.

Interestingly the gentleman, Richard, had worked his way up from warehouse to road, and Jess straight from University.

They sat sharing a drink (and our Enterprise grade Wi-Fi) whilst both tapping away,  their finger tips recording their days events onto their screens.

This is not a new scene here at the New Continental Hotel. We have an amazing collection of sensational business people who share our hotel and facilities each week; but last week what I was struck by was a unity between these two people, despite very different beginnings, thoughts and skill sets.

Cyber-Security…

As they asked me to join them, the conversation started with the Business landscape and obstacles in Plymouth. Then moved on to what I saw the future looking like both socially and economically. This then sharply moved on to a conversation that has intrigued me for some time now – cyber-security when out and about.

Our guests, be they here for leisure or business, are the most important thing to us, and their safety (in all respects) matters greatly. We are all told daily, with startling headlines and victims reports that for many ‘criminals’ – travellers and their online identities are at risk.

Your online presence is a cookie jar for those who know how to access it” and “Your lack of knowledge is a playpen for the technical criminal

Although we all know that even for the most seasoned of IT literate beings, just being present and online can provide a rich source of gratification, profit or power to someone who wishes to abuse it.

One Persons Wisdom Shared; Is Another Persons Gain…

Jess had studied at The University of Nottingham and although professed she was no expert, seemed to know a great deal about cyber defences and keeping her and her business safe.  Although not her Mastermind specialist subject; listening to her talk and seeing how intent Richard was at listening to what she had to share – I knew others may feel the same.

What was clear from our conversation was that holiday makers and business travellers were at risk just as much, if not more so than those people at home. In part because it was easier for their cyber defences to be on the back burner; off their minds as they head for a ‘jolly holiday’ or because, if they were business travellers, they had reports to write and return and tight deadlines!

Richard asked Jess a great questions:

When you are a business traveller you need to be connected, so how do you stay safe or at least SAFER when you are?

Cyber Hygiene!

‘Cyber hygiene’ as Jess put it was the first thing she mentioned; not only making sure your software is updated, but also changing your passwords before you travel. Each week she changes her passwords to complex words or phrases that are hard to guess. Jess also said she adds two-factor authentication. As this adds an extra layer of protection from hackers on her travels for work.

What was interesting was that she felt a responsibility not only to her own safety but her employers too. Quite rightly we talked about the responsibility we all have now to keep our companies safe.

We are living in an age where certain information is far more sensitive than money – and we wouldn’t carry around any amount of our companies cash without the correct security practises in place!

Social Platforms!

Richard didn’t have personal social media accounts. But another key element that came from the conversation was about the use of social media when you are on the road. As a hotel setting with love seeing people check-in and upload their photos, and we know that for many businesses they share posts, check-in and thank customers and new contacts for time and such like.  Jess said that although she does do this, she always waits until after her trip to share information through social media, that way she has the control.

Access!

Most employees now will have a VPN. This securely allow themselves to access data on a network and upload information, save and store safely. Even if you do have this; Jess also said that it’s always worth disabling your automatic connection to Wi-Fi networks – on all your devices when travelling. This prevents you accidentally joining public Wi-Fi without having a chance to check the network.

Jess said she never uses public Wi-Fi anymore, or any that doesn’t require a password.   Turning off your Bluetooth when you aren’t using it also came up.  Hackers can connect to a device and quickly download user data through this connection.  Like an open window, they can then access personal information and send messages or join infected networks.

All so scary!

Our conversations ended and we said our goodbyes. Yet the conversation left me thinking a few things – and not all about cyber safety!

Times change; things move on and we all adapt – but the constant is that strangers are just friends we haven’t made yet! No matter what our backgrounds or our journeys we all have things we can share. It was far from a one sided conversation. Richard gave Jess and I great advice that only comes with wisdom baked over time.

If you make the time to listen, even just for 30 minutes you can learn so much. And, if you take the time to switch off your Bluetooth you can be a little safer too!

These points will no doubt seem very basic to many. Yet my hope is that if just one person disables their automatic connection to Wi-Fi or turns off their Bluetooth (like Richard did!) it was well worth sharing our Roma Bar chit-chat! 

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