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Airport Internet: What Lawyers Need to Know

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

President Trump fires his attorney general for refusing to defend his immigration ban; a lawyer is jailed for peacefully protesting at the inauguration; and hundreds of lawyers are in the cross-hairs for assisting immigrants at the nation's airports.

Unless you work for the president, you might be feeling a little paranoid about what could happen to you if you cross the line. Oh wait, that's right. He fired his top attorney.

In any case, there is a real security threat to any attorney who does legal work at the airport. Everyone from a hacker to to an immigration official can access your communications on the internet.

Airports, like many public places, offer wi-fi services to anyone . But it's a bad idea for lawyers to use public Wi-Fi networks because they are not secure. For phishers, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Phish in a Barrel

In the age of IoT, literally everything with an internet connection can be hacked. If you wear a smart watch, talk on a cell phone, or use a mobile device, your information is less secure today than yesterday.

In a test of Wi-Fi security, a hacker demonstrated how he could get sensitive information from everyone in a cafe within minutes. He knew when everyone was born, where they attended school and what websites they visited before they finished their coffee.

The problem is that lawyers have a duty to keep information secure, and at the same time government has a duty to protect the public. Cybersecurity is the watchword in 2017.

VIP Treatment With VPN

"A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client." (Rule 1.6(c) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.)

That is the most recent statement of the ethics rule on protecting client information. It basically means we have to protect our clients information more than our own when we use public wi-fi. We may not care personally if somebody watches our text or browsing habits, but we have to avoid "inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to" client information.

A Virtual Private Network can help. It provides a secure connection to the internet, protecting against hackers who get nothing but encrypted information. Some VPN providers log traffic on their websites, however, so you may want to read a company's policy before signing up.

Other security measures for laptop users may include:

  • Enable firewall protections
  • Turn off network sharing
  • Turn off the wi-fi when not using it

Some times it's a good idea to turn off internet when working at an airport. It may not be necessary for certain tasks, such as drafting pleadings, and it could save money on data use.

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