Guest post by Lawyerist.com
Modern lawyers don’t just work in an office—they work from everywhere: their home, a client’s office, a coffee shop, and a co-working space are all places a lawyer might find themselves throughout the work day. In all of those instances, it is likely that you would be using someone else’s wifi network. But public wifi is a security nightmare.
Armed with easily obtainable and inexpensive equipment, hackers can intercept public wifi traffic, which means if you are communicating with a client or working on a client file, all that data could be exposed. And just because the wifi network you’re using is password protected doesn’t make it a non-public network. Everyone else working on that coffee shop network used the same password to get on the same network you are using.
If you don’t take care to protect client data, it can lead to serious ethical violations. The ABA and The Florida Bar have made clear that they expect you to keep third parties from accessing client data. It used to be that encrypting your communications was clunky and difficult, but, thankfully, protecting your firm’s data and communications is no longer a technical nightmare. Encryption over wifi networks can often be solved with the simple installation of an app.
To avoid potential client data breaches while working out of an airport or your favorite coffee shop, install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted private network, or tunnel, within a public network. It runs your data through its encrypted servers, so anyone spying on your electronic communications will see nothing but gibberish. It foils hackers and doesn’t really change anything for you as an end-user. You hop on a public wifi network and wait a few moments for your VPN to automatically connect, and then you are all set.
There are a wide number of VPN services to choose from. Some are free if you only need a small amount of data encrypted each month. Others may cost you around $10-13/month for unlimited encryption.
You should always make sure your computer itself is secure, and you should always secure your client communications. A VPN lets you do that in a cheap, efficient, and automated way, and attorneys should be using one.