If I were to drive around my neighborhood I bet I would find a number of unsecured wireless routers. It would be extremely easy for me, should I be so inclined, to connect to these routers and surf the web to my heart’s content. Let’s say that unsecured router belongs to you.
I Could Get You In Trouble
While I surfed the web I could download copyrighted music and movies, launch a denial of service attack, hack various websites, or worst of all, download child pornography. And since I used your wi-fi, it would seem as if each and every one of these things was done by you.
If I happened to download child pornography it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if you found a swat team knocking in your door screaming at you about being a pedophile as you are thrown down on the ground, no doubt suffering some scratches in the process. This is exactly what happened to a man in Buffalo, New York. In the Buffalo case it was a neighbor. It is often a neighbor who uses the wi-fi for a nefarious purpose.
Uncommon situation? Not really. It is becoming more and more common for people to use others’ Internet connection for bad purposes. Most router sharing is probably harmless, but do you want to be the one risking it if it isn’t harmless?
You might think, well the police will eventually figure it out. And that’s true, they probably will. But you will have had your door bashed in, your family disturbed, your life turned upside down, and your computers taken away for a while in the meantime. Worth it? I don’t think so.
I Could Steal Your Data
Data goes both ways, from your computer and to your computer. I might not choose to surf the Web using your wi-fi, but I might choose to steal the information you enter into your computer as it travels out through your unsecured router. This might include your banking password, or the information that will give me access to your client data. If it is the former, better change your account information. If it is the latter, better notify your malpractice carrier.
We as attorneys have an obligation to take reasonable steps to secure client data. I strongly believe that failure to secure a wireless router amounts to malpractice. No idea on whether a state bar will agree with me. But it might. I think it should.
I Could Use Up All Your Bandwidth
Some providers have a maximum amount of bandwidth that you can use per month. If I decide to use your wi-fi to download a bunch of HD movies it won’t take me very long to reach a 5 gig maximum. When you get a very expensive internet provider bill some month you’ll know why; someone used your unsecured router.
It Isn’t That Hard
It isn’t very hard to secure a wi-fi router. If your provider included a wireless router with your service, it will help you secure it, just give a call. If it is your own router then pull out the manual and read it. If you can’t figure it out, look online for help. Virtually every router can be found online. If you still need help call customer service for your particular router company.
It is the foolish person who fails to secure his wireless router. The risks are great. The rewards? Well what are the rewards? The ability to be lazy? Sharing your Internet connection because you are a nice person? Not having to figure it out?
The only one of these that can be considered a reward is that you like to share your Internet connection. I get it, we like to be nice. But not worth the trouble, and if you are an attorney, absolutely a big no as far as I am concerned. You want to play with your own data or risk your own freedom, so be it. Don’t do so with your clients’ data. Also, sharing your Internet connection with a third party? Probably not ok with your provider.
Secure your router. If you can’t figure it out ask for help. It is an easy process. Once it is done it is pretty much leave it and forget it. It is definitely worth the short period of time it will take you to secure your information, your connection and your clients’ information. It is definitely not worth the potential risks should you fail to secure your router.