By David Stellini
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely has become more common than ever. It has benefits, including flexibility and preserving the environment, but it also has shortcomings. One of the critical concerns is data security. And this is particularly important for lawyers.
Most jobs require some confidentiality, but lawyers depend upon it. Communication is vital to lawyers. You need to communicate with your clients discreetly and share critical information. In most cases, lawyers share essential information face to face. That’s also the best way to communicate with colleagues. But with the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions, they have been forced to meet virtually.
Unfortunately, working remotely brings its own risks. Confidential information can be intercepted. And some of the most popular communication tools have shown that they can be vulnerable to attack. For example, there were hundreds of Zoombombing cases last year. Hackers "invited" themselves to Zoom meetings that were supposed to be private.
With all of this in mind, here are a few things you can do to improve the security of your data—and your client’s data—and to protect your client's legal interests.
1. Use Strong Passwords on All of Your Devices
Without any exceptions, use strong passwords on all of your devices (phones and computers).
What's more, don't use one password for access to multiple devices or multiple sites. The easiest and best way to accomplish this may well be using a password manager like 1Password or Dashlane. A password manager can suggest robust passwords, ensure that you don’t duplicate their use, and remember them all so that you don’t have to.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Enable two-factor authentication to up your security. If you use this for email, for example, whenever someone tries to login to your email account with a new device, a code will be sent to your phone. Without the code, the person is locked out. It will also let you know that someone is illegally trying to access your account, and you can take necessary precautions.
3. Always Ensure that Your Internet Connections Are Safe
Free Wi-Fi is convenient, but it can be a recipe for disaster. The public internet is prone to attack. The possibility of a hacker accessing your files while you are using Wi-Fi at an airport or a Starbucks is very high. Therefore, never use the public internet to transmit sensitive information. You should avoid free connections as often as possible. If you must use free Wi-Fi or public internet, then always have your VPN activated. A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts your internet traffic and monitors signs of interception. Just make sure you use a quality VPN service provider such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
4. Use Separate Computers
The possibility of a security breach increases if you use one computer for everything, including accessing public Wi-Fi and even just accessing the internet for your daily browsing at home. To protect your client's confidentiality, you may want to have a separate computer dedicated to your work and not used for casual communications and web surfing. And switch off your work computer when you’re not using it.
5. Always Keep Antivirus and Antimalware Software Updated
Most of our computers come with free antimalware and antivirus software that keeps most attacks at bay. However, it is vital to ensure that your software is updated for maximum protection. When it is outdated, you will receive a notification that allows you to upgrade. You can also enable auto-update so that it automatically updates whenever there is a newer version. If possible, choose the premium programs. They don't cost much, and they will enhance the safety of your devices.
6. Always Back Up Sensitive Data
They say we should always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. To be on the safe side, always back up your sensitive data in case of a security breach. If your device is compromised, you may want to delete everything before it lands in the wrong hands, but your sensitive client data will need to be elsewhere to be safe. Also, make sure your backed-up data is not electronically connected to your computer. A ransomware attack encrypts your data. If your backup is also encrypted, it’s of no use to you.
7. Use Secure Messaging Apps
There are many messaging and video conferencing apps, but not all are secure enough for confidential data transmission. A secure messaging app should have end-to-end encryption. This type of encryption ensures that no one can access your private messages but you and the intended receiver. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to hack into end-to-end encryption. The app should not use open source code to ensure that there is no back-door access to your conversations. Among the most secure messaging apps that you can use to send sensitive data and make video calls without worrying are Signal, Telegram, Dust, and Wickr Me. They are all free, and they all use end-to-end encryption. You can use any to call or send sensitive data. One app you should avoid using to transmit sensitive information is Google Hangouts. It is available on both iOS and Android, but it has many security flaws. The fact that it does not use end-to-end encryption makes it quite vulnerable.
The Bottom Line
Technically, the tips we've shared sound pretty basic. But they will help ensure that your data is safe. The future of web app security depends on our being more vigilant in the way we share data. And for lawyers, it will help you protect your clients’ confidentiality.
David Stellini is the co-founder of AllFront.io, a full-service front-end agency. He is an expert in developing fintech applications. Before founding Allfront, he worked as a front-end engineer.