Protecting Client Data When Traveling
Executive Summary of an article written by Craig R. Smith
Critical data should never be stored solely on mobile devices. It must be stored at a secure location so that the loss of a device does not mean the complete loss of data. Concerns regarding protection of client data when traveling have been amplified in the past year by an increase in electronic device searches at the U.S. border.
Customs agents have been given broad discretion to search electronic devices at the border, even without any reason for suspicion. Attorneys have an obligation to strenuously resist providing border agents access to protected client information. Turn off electronic equipment before reaching customs and ensure that all devices are password protected and encrypted. Two-step authentication makes it more difficult to unlock mobile devices and accounts. If a device can be unlocked using a fingerprint or facial recognition, as is the case with the new Apple iPhone, then these access points should be shut off. It is unclear whether border agents can require travelers to use their finger or face to unlock a device.
Traveling at home and abroad with nearly unlimited access to client data is a boon for attorneys’ productivity. The downside is that it increases the risk that client information can be lost, compromised or searched without the attorney’s permission. Attorneys are wise to prepare for each trip with an eye to protecting client data, especially when traveling internationally and crossing the U.S. border.
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