February 21, 2019 Technology

Ask Techie

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about how to secure your wireless network and whether you need to encrypt all your e-mails to clients—and if so, how to go about doing it.

Q: What can I do to secure my wireless network?

A: If you’re not feeling the love from hackers, you can take measures to secure your wireless network with these three easy steps:

  1. Change your network name and the default administrator password
  2. Enable WPA2 encryption; and
  3. Use a strong password for your wireless network.

These changes can all be made from your router settings; refer to your router’s user manual for instructions on how to access this from your web browser.

—By Ashley Hallene, Technology Subcommittee Chair/Deputy Editor, ahallene@hallenelaw.com

Q: Do I have to encrypt sensitive e-mails and attachments to clients? If so, what should I use?

A: To be safe, yes, you should use e-mail encryption or another secure method to send sensitive messages and documents.

ABA Formal Opinion 477R, revised May 22, 2017, provides guidance but not an absolute requirement to use encrypted e-mail for all client communications. (For analysis of the opinion, see the Litigation News article “New ABA Guidance on Electronic Client Communications.”)

What are your options for securely sending sensitive messages and documents?

  • Client portals in many cloud practice management systems allow you to securely exchange documents and messages saved as documents.
  • Tutanota offers a free service for sending and receiving encrypted e-mails and attachments from a private webmail account. Using this simple application, you give each client a password they will need to open your secure e-mails delivered to their in-boxes. For $1 per month, a premium account sends notification e-mails to your main e-mail address when clients send you secure e-mails.
  • RMail has a free plan that lets you send five secure messages per month. The professional plan ($14.99 per month annually) lets clients open secure e-mails without a password in most cases. All plans include registered mail that proves delivery.
  • ShareFile at $10 per month for one user or $77 per month for five users (with advanced features) is a popular service for professionals. Unlike most other options, it does not require your clients to use a password.
  • File-sharing features of cloud services can create password-protected links you can send to your clients. Box has the best reputation. The well-known services Dropbox and OneDrive have been successfully exploited by hackers.
  • Microsoft Outlook can support the transmission of encrypted e-mail, but it can be complicated to set it up.

For simplicity of setup and no or low cost, Tutanota wins. For more powerful capabilities and for avoiding required password use by your clients, consider some of the other options.

—By Wells H. Anderson, JD, Contributing Technology Editor, info@securemyfirm.com

What’s YOUR Question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (robert.salkin@americanbar.org) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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