Don’t Take Secure Wifi Networks for Granted Even at Your Lawyer’s Office

Wifi networks have become almost as common and expected as electricity. People expect to be able to login to secure wifi networks at coffee shops, hotels, medical clinics and professional offices of all types, even their attorney’s office. After all, if you have to wait for an appointment, you should be able to login and pass the time working, checking emails or updating social media accounts.

How Secure are Public WiFI Networks?

That old saying about making assumptions holds very true with public wifi networks wherever they are found. Security can range from very tight to almost nonexistent. A great many people have had their data stolen by someone sitting outside who accessed the network remotely. Experts have warned wifi users for years to always use paid wifi rather than free because of the security risk.

How Secure are Legal WiFi Networks?

Lawyers have a special duty to keep their clients’ information secure. This was actually easier before the internet became so prevalent. Paper documents locked in file cabinets are much more secure than digital documents.

Since 2012, the American Bar Association Model Rule 1.1 has required attorneys to be “adept” with using technology and understanding and guarding against the risks of data theft. This obligates attorneys to take certain precautionary steps, especially if they are making business use of social media.

  • If a client’s sensitive document is being sent over the internet, it should be encrypted.
  • Their business computers should be fully protected against viruses and malware, including ransomware.
  • The business wifi network should be secure.

The Year of the Breach

The National Law Review called 2016 “The Year of the Breach” because of numerous security breaches in law firms throughout the world, including the U.S. There were incidents involving stolen or lost laptops and other devices that contained sensitive customer information. The FBI actually issued a warning that law firms were being targeted because of the importance of the data they held. One large Chicago law firm is facing a proposed class action lawsuit because of an accusation that they failed to protect client data.

WiFi networks that are not adequately protected present an open door to cybercriminals. It’s unwise for anyone to blithely assume that any wifi network is secure. Professional organizations, particularly law firms, must be especially vigilant.