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   March 2002


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Be Safe! Privacy Tools

By WELLS ANDERSON

Secure Sensitive E-mail

Most people feel that their e-mails are needles in the huge Internet haystack. But lawyer-client communications can contain extremely sensitive information. Beware: E-mails and attachments travel over the Net in easily readable formats. They can be intercepted by ISP staff and hackers everywhere. And sniffer programs—which scan Internet traffic for keywords—can separate your valuable wheat from the general e-mail chaff. Check these options for encrypting confidential messages and attachments.

PGP Personal Security 7.03. Public key encryption provides the best protection for e-mails, but both sender and recipient must install compatible encryption software on their systems before it works. Technologically savvy clients will appreciate your using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) e-mail encryption, which integrates well into Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and Lotus E-mail. But many other clients don’t have PGP software—and won’t want to bother with it.

Fortunately, PGP 7.03 creates attachments that can be opened by any recipient without installing software. Unfortunately, you must encrypt each message or file as an .EXE attachment with a password, get the password to your client, rename the attachment with an ending like .EEE (since antivirus software rejects .EXE files), and tell your client to rename it back to an .EXE file.

PGP is available both as well-respected freeware and in a line of commercial products. McAfee’s commercial version of PGP includes several other vital tools to protect your privacy: firewall and intrusion detection that protect against hacker attacks and encrypted virtual hard drive for storing sensitive files on your PC. Full PGP encryption provides extremely strong protection. After both sender and recipient have it installed, it operates in the background, with no password hassles. But it takes time and a number of steps to install, and clients who haven’t used it will need to spend considerable time to get up and running.

• PGP Personal Security 7: $49.95 at http://mcafeestore.beyond.com /Product/0,1057,3-18-SN107574,00.html ($39.95 at amazon.com)

• PGP Freeware 7.03: at International PGP Home Page, www.pgpi.org/products/pgp/versions/freeware

• PGP Freeware 6.5.8: at MIT Distribution Center, http://web.mit.edu/network/pgp.html

DataSAFE SE. An easier-to-install option is NovaStor Corporation’s DataSAFE SE, which addresses the same needs as PGP Freeware. It also requires the added step of separately communicating a password to the recipient. However, using 64-bit encryption, DataSAFE SE is not as secure as PGP or programs using 128-bit or greater technology. But it would still take a hacker a great deal of effort to crack a DataSAFE SE file using one personal computer. Also available is the full DataSAFE program, which offers a few more features, including drag and drop from Windows Explorer.

• DataSAFE SE: $15.99 at www.novastor.com

• DataSAFE: $24 and up at www.novastor.com

Erase Old Hard Drives Completely

When you’re getting rid of old hardware, you must take precautions to ensure that none of your data travels elsewhere with the computer—be it to a worthy charity, the recycling center or the trash bin. But remnants of client documents and data will survive your efforts to delete them. Even reformatting the hard drive doesn’t obliterate information that remains. It’s just waiting for an inquisitive teenager with hacker tools.

Use a program like the freeware DiskCleanUp or Ontrack’s DataEraser to completely erase the contents of PC hard disks. But be careful: With these utility programs, erased means really gone.

• Disk CleanUp: free at www.gregorybraun.com/cleanup.html

• DataEraser: $29.95 at www.ontrack.com/dataeraser

Send Unalterable Documents

Sometimes you want to send electronic documents to a client, but you don’t want the recipient to be able to alter them. Or maybe you’ve authored a document and want to distribute it to a number of people, but you don’t want them to reuse your text.

Infraworks makes a unique product, InTether. It protects the content of files, like mp3, video, software or word processing documents, by allowing the sender to control how the recipient uses the information, including control over printing, copying and even forwarding. If there’s an attempt at hacking, the file self-destructs. InTether provides the most extensive choice of limitations on use and access that I’ve seen. You can limit viewing time, prevent screen captures and stop cuts and pastes.

• InTether: free for reader software, $269 for author software at www.infraworks.com

Don’t overlook antivirus software, firewalls and safe Web-surfing practices. They are essential privacy safeguards. Use the tools mentioned here for valuable extra protection.

For More Resources

• Open Directory Project: http://dmoz.org/computers/software

• André Bacard’s Privacy Page: www.andrebacard.com/privacy.html

• DaveCentral—Shareware Archive: www.davecentral.com

• And for a readable discussion of security issues, see "Privacy and Security on the Internet" by Lawrence E. Widman, www.med-edu.com/internet-security.html.

Wells Anderson (wa@wellslegaltech.com) is President of Wells Anderson Legal Tech Services in Minneapolis.