When communicating with legal clients, you need to be sure that all your messages and exchanged information is secure. You’ll likely be exchanging sensitive information, including personal data associated with each client, and messages that could be incriminating (or could otherwise compromise the integrity of your work).
Fortunately, with the help of better email security practices and better education for your clients, you can greatly improve the security of your ongoing communications.
Important Steps to Take
First, there are some steps you and your team can take to improve the security of communication on your end:
· Talk in person when possible. Unless someone is recording you, it’s very difficult to track in-person conversations. Reserve some of your most important discussions for in-person meetings when possible.
· Invest in encrypted email. Most major email platforms offer some degree of email encryption in transit, but this may not be adequate for your security needs. You can keep yourself and your clients more secure by investing in better-encrypted email standards, keeping all your incoming and outgoing communications encrypted.
· Secure your own accounts. Take the time to secure your own email and communication accounts; even the most basic security precautions can reduce your vulnerability. For example, choose a strong password for your email account with many different types of characters in a random sequence, and make sure the string of characters is as long as possible. You can also enable multi-factor authentication to make it much harder for an unauthorized user to access your account. Also make sure you log out of your account every time you complete a round of work, and always use secure connections.
· Invest in a spam filter. You may be able to detect the majority of suspicious emails on your own, noting unusual patterns or unfamiliar attachments. However, there’s still a risk that you could
fall for a phishing scheme or another attack in the future. Invest in a better spam filter, and you’ll be able to filter out more of these potential attack vectors.
· Conduct scans. It’s also a good idea to scan your incoming emails for malware, using a malware detection product. In most cases, you’ll be able to flag suspicious or problematic emails before you ever have to worry about them.
· Don’t keep irrelevant messages or data. Even if you’re using an encrypted email platform and are following best practices religiously, it’s not a good idea to store client information for any longer than you must. Make it a point to clear out old messages, especially if they contain sensitive information.
Educating Your Clients
Of course, even if you employ the most rigorous communication security standards you can muster, you’ll still have to worry about your clients. Take the time to educate them:
· Caution clients to remain silent on all fronts. An extension of the right to silence, make sure your clients understand the importance of not communicating with other people unless absolutely necessary. As their legal counsel, they should feel comfortable coming to you with all manner of communication, but caution them not to speak about the case otherwise. They shouldn’t be talking to law enforcement without you present, and they certainly shouldn’t be talking about the case to other people in any kind of trackable way; that includes email, social media, and even phone calls.
· Teach clients best practices for email account security. You’ve already applied most best practices for email account security for yourself, but it’s important that your clients also understand these best practices. If you have an encrypted messaging option, make sure they use it consistently. Also, make sure they’ve properly secured their email accounts.
· Help clients understand key communication vulnerabilities. There are many vulnerabilities inherent in various communication channels, including talking in person, speaking over the phone, and emailing. Make sure your client understands these vulnerabilities, and is able to avoid them or compensate for them in daily life.
With these strategies, you can keep your client communication much more secure. Best of all, none of them require much time, money, or effort; even the most basic security precautions can help keep you and your clients stay safer.
Alex Sanders is a passionate and experienced writer with a focus on business finance, politics, public policy, and law. He is extremely passionate about social justice issues. Alex received his bachelor of science in business management from the University of Michigan.