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working smarter Katie Kervin Cloudy, With a Chance of Hacking


A potential breach at Evernote raises concerns about the security of cloud-based applications used by meeting professionals.


T


his past March, people who held accounts with the popular cloud- based notetaking and archiving


application Evernote received an email requesting that they change their pass- words “as a precaution to protect your data.” Several days earlier, Evernote staff had become aware of “suspicious activity” that may have been a coor- dinated attempt to access its secure servers. What information might the hackers have been after? Potentially not just account holders’ usernames and passwords, but credit-card information for paid subscribers — and access to the information users stored in Evernote, which was launched five years ago. Along with notetaking, Evernote en-


ables users to capture clippings from the Web, collaborate with friends and colleagues on projects, and even scan documents that can be easily accessed from any device — laptop, desktop com- puter, tablet, or smartphone. Meeting attendees and planners


alike have found Evernote and similar apps to be a boon. “While attending [PCMA] Convening Leaders [2013] and listening to Oren Klaff talk about Pitch Anything, I realized there was a lot to take in,” Christine Shimasaki, CDM, CMP, managing director of DMAI’s empowerMINT.com, wrote in a LinkedIn discussion. “So I took notes on my iPad in the Evernote app and even took a picture of a slide I wanted to capture and poof ... the image landed right there in the middle of my notes!” Mary Lou Coupal, CMP, business devel- opment manager at Montreal-based JPdL International, chimed in to the discussion: “Last year, one of our JPdL Intl. project managers responsible for a major international congress worked


38 PCMA CONVENE JUNE 2013


on site entirely from her iPad; she was able to share documents and communi- cate last-minute changes in real time to all suppliers and [the] venue.” When storing or sharing documents


in a cloud-based service like Evernote, any data stored lives on that company’s servers. This means it’s conveniently accessible any time, on any device, pro- viding the account is synced when it’s connected to the Internet. But if that company’s servers are targeted, there’s no safeguarding users’ notes from prying eyes, unless they’ve encrypted (or scrambled) the data before storing


— a step that many or even most users might not know how to take. The Ever- note scare serves as a reminder that cloud-based equals public, and users need to keep that in mind when upload- ing, storing, or sharing information. Of course, privacy isn’t much of a


concern if you’re only sharing PDFs of floorplans. “Honestly, the stuff that I’m doing at the meetings and events level, none of it’s all that proprietary,” said Missy Johnson, CMP, senior manager of meetings and events with Lockton Companies. While she doesn’t use Ever- note, Johnson has found other tools useful, including iAnnotate, a tablet app that allows users to upload, take notes on, and share PDFs; and SignUp4, event-management software that streamlines the meeting-registration process. “When I get on site and I’ve got my iPad,” Johnson said, “I just try to reference all those electronic copies of all the [meeting] materials … so I’m not carrying around a big binder or a bunch of paperwork with me.”


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Katie Kervin is an assistant editor of Convene.


PCMA.ORG BREAKOUT


What About Dropbox?


Missy Johnson, CMP, with Lock- ton Companies, uses Dropbox the way a lot of professionals in the meetings industry do — to share documents with a con- tractor who works outside her company. “I’ll send her a project to work on and send her the file through Dropbox,” she said. “And when she’s done with it, she’ll put it back there and we can both access it easily.”


Dropbox is convenient when working with outside contacts or vendors who don’t have access to a company’s secure shared drive, but certainly has the same risks as any cloud-based ap- plication, which is why Johnson only shares information that is commonly accessed “throughout the Lockton world.” The company is working on creating its own cloud-based system that will be secure and password-protected, Johnson said, “but until then, I’m using the tools that are available.”


ON THE WEB


Read Evernote’s full message to its users on its blog at convn.org/ evernote-hack.


Working Smarter is sponsored by PSAV Presentation Services, psav.com.


ILLUSTRATION BY BECI ORPIN / THE JACKY WINTER GROUP

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