As an attorney, your client data is under constant threat from hackers. That’s why it’s important that you avoid using public Wi-Fi when communicating with clients or accessing their information whenever possible. However, there may be times when you need to use public Wi-Fi to access email or other data under emergency circumstances. Here are a few tips for staying secure when you need to use public Wi-Fi.

  1. Use A VPN. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to mitigate the risks of using public Wi-Fi. Using a VPN you can access a secure online network before venturing onto the internet so that it is difficult for other users on the same public Wi-Fi hotspot to access your private data. That VPN acts as a firewall between the internet with potential hackers and the data on your device.
  2. Don’t store client data on your devices. Storing your data in the cloud is your best defense against hackers. Hackers who use ransomware depend on accessing your sensitive files stored locally on your device. They secretly encrypt your locally stored files, then charge you ransom to unlock them. When you’re data is stored in the cloud, there is no sensitive data for hackers to access on your laptop or other device.
  3. Use semi-public Wi-Fi. When you’re in a pinch and need access to the internet while traveling, consider using semi-public Wi-Fi hotspots that require a password. For example, many coffee shops require a password before accessing their Wi-Fi hotspots, and this is a lot better than a public Wi-Fi hotspot that has no password protection.
  4. Lock your files. If you must store some sensitive data on your laptop or smartphone, lock it with a password. Even if a hacker accesses your device through a public Wi-Fi network, they will face another obstacle if they need a password to access your files.
  5. Use only briefly. If you must use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, use it only for what you need such as sending a quick email or searching the internet for a few moments. Don’t linger. The longer you’re on a public Wi-Fi hotspot, the more vulnerable you become to hackers accessing your private data.
  6. Turn off sharing. Go to your network settings and turn “file sharing” to “off.” Also, turn on your firewall and tweak your settings so that others using the public network cannot access your files. If you’re using a smartphone turn off your “airdrop” settings. You don’t want strangers dropping your messages or other data.
  7. Turn off “automatically connect.” Some devices will automatically reconnect to any network you’ve used in the past—turn this feature off. You should also completely log off any service you’ve accessed while on the public network such as Gmail or Facebook.
  8. Consider changing your passwords. To be extra cautious, consider changing your passwords once you get access to a secure network just in case someone sniffed out your password on the public network. Better safe than sorry.

It’s better to avoid using public Wi-Fi, if at all possible, but in those cases of emergency, utilize your best security practices to keep sensitive data safe.