The practice of law is constantly evolving. As with most businesses, email has become the most common method for exchanging information with clients. As a legal professional, you have an ethical duty to take reasonable measures to protect client information from exposure to un-authorized access. If you accidentally send a document to the wrong person, or if your email gets hacked and leaked to the public, the ramifications could not only affect your clients but your practice and potentially your future.
The American Bar Association published a formal opinion entitled Duty to Protect the Confidentiality of E-mail Communications with One’s Client. In it, the ABA outlines several common scenarios where one must consider the risk of using electronic communications that third party may gain access to. Fortunately, there are many easy to use email encryption technologies that allow you to secure sensitive emails and attachments without sacrificing ease of use.
Still not convinced? Check out the following 5 reasons why email encryption can be a lawyer's best friend:
Have you ever sent the wrong document to a client? Or accidentally cc’d the wrong person on a sensitive email? We’ve all done it, and it's an easy mistakes to make. Most email encryption platforms allows you to revoke access after sending the message, which is something you can’t do with traditional email. Most systems also let you see or be notified when a recipient downloads a file or views a message, which can be a great way to keep tabs on when your clients views what you send them.
Identity Theft is on the Rise
Plain text emails that contain privileged data, like driver’s license numbers, social security numbers or tax returns, can be easily intercepted from your email server or your recipient’s email server. This information is a prime target for hackers since it can be used to perpetrate various types of identity theft. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to request this information from their clients, so having a secure mechanism for your clients to send you this information (or vice versa) is important. And if you think password protecting a PDF file is sufficient, think again. A PDF document protected using something like a Social Security Number can be unlocked using freely available software in less than one minute.
New Encryption Options are Easy to Use
Historically encryption was hard to use and required technical know-how. Finding the right program to use getting it integrated with your mail program is one thing, but the last thing you want to do is inconvenience your clients. Today there are lots of options that do not require your clients to have any special software installed or register an account before they can view secure messages. If you’ve looked at email encryption in the past and thought it was clunky to use, it’s probably time to give it another shot to see how things have improved.
Lawyers are often a Soft Target
The reality is that law firms that deal with large corporations typically have worse data security than their clients. Depending on the nature of the work being done, your law firm might find itself being targeted. The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology recently reported that “Cyberattacks are increasingly targeting lawyers, and the legal profession must respond more energetically to the threat than it has to date.” This trend will continue, and proactively addressing this threat is the best way to prevent yourself from being victimized.
Because You Can’t Afford Not To
With the threat of cyber attacks constantly on the rise, email encryption is becoming a must-have security feature. If your firm’s email is hacked or compromised, your clients will be the first to ask why appropriate security measures were not in place when they are readily available and widely used in other industries. Don’t wait for your clients to demand security.
SendSafely: Simple to Use End-to-end Encryption for Email and File Transfer
If you are a legal professional looking for a simple to use email encryption and secure file transfer platform, consider taking a look at SendSafely. Our enterprise platform integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange and Google Apps for Business.