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How Lawyers Can Protect Themselves on Public Wi-Fi

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on August 15, 2012 6:49 AM

You already know that public wi-fi hotspots can be bad news for lawyers looking to keep information confidential.

Those wi-fi connections are generally unsecured meaning anyone can get on them. It also means that hackers can easily monitor them and potentially get a hold of your private information.

Still, you're probably going to keep using them anyway so rather than wag our fingers, we've got some ways you can keep your files protected when you're doing work in Starbucks.

  1. Use the tools you have. Most computers have a built-in list of ways to keep your computer safe. Turn on your firewall when you're on public wi-fi and turn off any file sharing. Depending on your computer you can set it up to automatically change these settings on a public network.

  2. Stay on HTTPS/SSL sites. Secure Sockets Layer is a way to encrypt technology sent over the Internet and some websites use it to protect client information. If the website has 'https' in the address it's using SSL technology to keep information safe. Gmail has this option so turn it on. Stay away from websites that don't unless you actually use a unique password every time.

  3. Set up a VPN. Ok, not a lot of websites are using SSL so what do you do then? Use a Virtual Private Network when on public wi-fi to route your web activity through a separate and secure private connection. If you're not sure how to set one up, there's an app for that.

  4. Double check the wi-fi hotspot's name. One of the easiest ways for hackers to get to you is to set up an unsecured network that looks like it belongs to the place you're in but doesn't actually. Check with a barista about the name of the wi-fi network so you know you're on the right one.

  5. If you don't need it, don't use it. Best way to avoid unsecured Internet trouble? Don't use it. A lot of a lawyer's work might not require the internet so if you're not using it, sign off from the public wi-fi.

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