July 01, 2016

TAPAs: Protecting Yourself

Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene


We often talk about security and how to protect clients’ confidential information. While you have ethical duties to clients respecting the protection of their information, you also have to concern yourself with protecting your own information to ensure that you can continue to function and serve your clients. Accordingly, this column will look at some tips to protect yourself, your firm’s assets, and your own assets.


Tip #1: Keep all important information protected through encryption. Good encryption prevents the bad guys from reading data even if they get access to it. Good encryption means at least 128 bit key and preferably 256 bit key encryption, with each file protected by a strong password.

Tip #2: Don’t bank in public. Most of us now use the Internet in some fashion respecting our banking. Some of us use it more than others. You can use the Internet to access your bank accounts, check on deposits, make deposits, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills, and more. That makes for a very convenient situation because you can avoid going to a bank and waiting in line for Snail the teller. We have no issue with you doing those things (we do them ourselves); BUT, do not access your bank accounts on a public computer or a public network. If you feel you have no other option but to use a public network, make sure you have a VPN (virtual private network) for protection. To ensure that you do, set up access to one immediately, so that it will be in place when you need it.

Tip #3: Protect access to your financial accounts. Set up strong password access on each of your computers and mobile devices and also for each of your financial accounts. Change your passwords regularly (every three or four months should suffice). Remember a strong password includes a minimum of eight alpha/numeric/symbolic characters using both upper and lower case letters. Treat the passwords with care and secure them.

Tip #4: Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Use a unique password and login name for each of your financial accounts. That way, if someone gets their hands on one account, they do not have access to the others.

Tip #5: Do not allow auto access to your financial accounts. DO NOT set up your devices to automatically access your financial accounts or to save your passwords and login names. Yes, we know it is a pain in the posterior to have to type that information yourself; but it will prove FAR LESS painful than trying to clean up the mess that occurs if someone steals your information and accesses your accounts.


Jeffrey Allen and Ashley Hallene

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA (particularly in the GPSolo and Senior Lawyers Divisions), the California State Bar Association and the Alameda County Bar Association. A frequent speaker on technology topics, he is editor-in-chief of GPSolo Magazine and GPSolo Technology eReport. He serves as an editor and the technology columnist for Experience Magazine and has served on the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal. He also serves on the ABA’s Standing Committee on Information Technology. Recently, he coauthored (with Ashley Hallene) Technology Solutions for Today's Lawyer and iPad for Lawyers: The Tools You Need at Your Fingertips. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He teaches at California State University of the East Bay. He may be reached at jallenlawtek@aol.com. You may also get technology information from his blog: jallenlawtekblog.com. Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She maintains a diverse solo practice on the side. Ashley is the coauthor of the technology overview Making Technology Work for You (A Guide for Solo and Small Firm Attorneys) along with attorney Jeffrey Allen. She has published articles on legal technology in GPSolo Magazine, GPSolo eReport, and the TechnoLawyer Newsletter. Ashley is an active member of the American Bar Association’s General Practice Solo & Small Firm Division, ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Houston Young Lawyers Association, and the Houston Association of Petroleum Landmen. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology and Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport.