Google Simplifies E-mail Security

Google’s introduction of new encryption tools may be one of the most favorable security developments in a while. A New York Times article, Google Offers New Encryption Tool, explains:

The tool, called End-to-End, uses an open-source encryption standard, OpenPGP, that will allow users to encrypt their email from the time it leaves their web browser until it is decrypted by the intended recipient. It will also allow users to easily read encrypted messages sent to their web mail service. The tool will require that users and their recipients use End-to-End or another encryption tool to send and read the contents.

This could be a major blow to the N.S.A. Despite numerous cryptographic advances over the past 20 years, end-to-end email encryption like PGP and GnuPG is still remarkably labor-intensive and require a great deal of technical expertise. User mistakes — not errors in the actual cryptography — often benefited the N.S.A. in its decade-long effort to foil encryption.

The point is: NSA can decrypt or otherwise access just about any message–even if they have to break into your office and install spying tools on your computer. However, they can’t decrypt or steal every message. Even they don’t have that many resources. Increasing the use of encryption makes everyone safer from snoops, whether garden variety or super snoop.

 

New Ways to Stay Safe on the Internet

Lincoln Mead has some fresh ideas on Internet security in the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine. Here’s one that was new to me:

Web sessions come in two flavors: “http” and “https.” The latter is the important one as it designates that your connection to a Web server is encrypted. By default, the Web server will provide unencrypted “http.” You can force your browser to use “https” by installing a small browser plug-in. In Chrome and Firefox, use HTTPS Everywhere (https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere). However, in Internet Explorer and in Safari, no option currently exists to force “https.”

One consideration for forcing “https” is that it can affect the speed of the browser, as the tool tries to complete an “https” connection to services that may not offer such access.

Boost Productivity with Evernote App

Evernote is a slick app, but my guess is few lawyers come close to tapping the power of this tool. Jim Calloway passes along some tips from Australian lawyer Philippe Doyle Gray and provides his own tips on how to get more of the very popular Evernote app:

Don’t be a cheap skate. Subscribe to Evernote Premium for only $45 per year. Your monthly upload limit then increases from 40 MB to 1 GB per month. You get a PIN lock for mobile devices for improved security. Search tools are greatly enhanced as well. I use Evernote’s web clipping service all of the time to save web pages for future reference.

Problems With E-mail Disclaimers/Warnings

It’s smart to include disclaimers in all your e-mail messages, right? A friend of mine summarized her advice at a legal conference a few years ago as “Disclaim, Disclaim, Disclaim.”

Is it really that easy? Some people think disclaimers can warnings may hurt more than they help.

A Lawyerist article entitled This Post is Privileged and Confidential has some good observations on the nearly ubiquitous disclaimers in e-mail messages:

There are several problems with these disclaimers, aside from cluttering up email threads. For one, attorney-client privilege and confidentiality are not the same thing.  Without digressing too much, suffice it to say that while all attorney-client privileged communications are confidential, only a small portion of the client information lawyers are required to treat as confidential is also privileged. Another incongruity is that an email intentionally sent from a lawyer to almost anyone except a client will not be confidential or privileged at all (setting aside agents or experts the lawyer may be contacting on the client’s behalf or negotiations subject to a confidentiality agreement or rule).  So for the vast majority of emails that lawyers send — to colleagues, to witnesses, to vendors, to friends, to listservs, etc. — the disclaimer is meaningless.

Undermining Disclaimers Through Overuse

Which brings us to the real problem with these disclaimers. By overusing them, lawyers may be undermining the effectiveness of disclaimers in protecting the confidential or privileged nature of the information in the email in the (hopefully) rare event that an email is misdirected (or inadvertently produced in discovery).

In Scott v. Beth Israel Medical Center Inc., 847 N.Y.S.2d 436, 444 (2007), the court refused to find that a series of emails were privileged just because they contained a disclaimer that was found in every email sent by the plaintiff. Moreover, by overusing disclaimers and privilege warnings, lawyers are training the world to ignore them — which is precisely what we don’t want people to do.

Want to keep your communications confidential? Encrypt them.

Cloud Ethics Opinions

Bob Ambrogi notes, “The ethics of cloud computing remains an evolving area of law and research involving it needs constant updating.”

The energetic Mr. Ambrogi followed up by finding several cloud ethics opinions to supplement the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s list.

The bottom line looks good:

The good news here is that all 17 of the states that have considered the issue agree that lawyers may ethically use the cloud, provided they take reasonable steps to minimize risk to confidential information and client files.

Lawyers Attracting Twitter Followers

Kevin O’Keefe has some good ideas about lawyer use of Twitter, including:

  1. Your Twitter account should be in your own name. Not your law firm’s name, not your blog’s name, and not in a pseudonym. People trust people. As a lawyer you need all the trust you can get.
  2. Focus on a niche. Random tweeting about various legal, business, and social news and information can end up just being noise among all the other tweets. Tweeting on a niche, ie, legal ethics, will become a clear signal to relevant users. As others with an Interest in legal ethics start re-tweeting what you are sharing you’ll pick up a following. You’ll also find Twitter recommending that others with an interest in legal ethics follow you.
  3. A RSS news reader is a must. Follow sources of interest (blogs and news sites) and keywords and phrases of Interest. Feedly is a good one to use. I use Mr. Reader hooked up to Feedly on my iPad. Your reader will collect news and info leaving you with plenty of items to Tweet.
  4. Use a news reader that enables sharing to Twitter. Most readers, ala Feedly or Mr. Reader, allow you to share items directly from the reader with the push of a button or two. It’s too hard copying and pasting items into Twitter.
  5. Give attribution to the source in your tweet. Leave the Twitter handle of the source of the blog post or news story you are sharing. That way the source, often influential, will see you. They’ll often thank you.
  6. Leave enough characters for a retweet. A tweet can only be 140 characters. A retweet includes “RT” and your twitter handle, ie, @kevinokeefe. A retweet of my tweet takes 15 characters, “RT @kevinokeefe:,” so I try to limit my tweets to 125 characters. That way they’re easy to retweet.

via Getting followers on Twitter : What’s a lawyer to do?.

New Book on PowerPoint for Lawyers

Paul Unger’s book PowerPoint in One Hour for Lawyers is now available. Here’s one section that’s right on:

Don’t Misuse PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s misuse is a nationwide epidemic. Critics of PowerPoint, like Edward R. Tufte, say that the program itself facilitates the making of bad presentations. Moreover, Tufte claims that PowerPoint “stupefies” our culture by encouraging fragmented thinking through bullet points and linear slides, further diminishing our attention span, and feeding us heaping spoonfuls of graphic sugar. While I see Tufte’s point, I think PowerPoint is just a tool that humans use or misuse. When a tailor sews a crooked seam, should we blame the sewing machine? If a presenter has poor content and bad graphics or does not communicate clearly, should we blame PowerPoint? The bottom line is that if used properly, PowerPoint is an extremely effective tool to deliver information to our fast-paced world.

via Tips for Effective Use of PowerPoint – Law Technology Today.

One App To Rule Them All Doesn’t Work (But Eleven Might)

Interesting article at Quartz by writer who has decided it’s folly to try to get by with only a couple of productivity apps. He gives his top 11 apps and concludes:

I’ve realized that the more I give each app a clear role, and I stick to that role, my work flows stay smooth and unambiguous. With discipline, the sheer number of apps stops becoming a factor. Information appears manageable, and I use my limited mental capacity to tick off tasks one after the other.

Some pointers when choosing apps:

  • Store one thing in one place. Besides backups of course.Multi-platform is nice to have.
  • Apps that remind you of stuff can be more useful than apps that store things nicely.
  • The more frequently you use an app, the lighter, more user-friendly, and clutter-free it should be.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with new apps.
  • Apps that can be activated via email are nice.
  • It must be easy to tell apart things with deadlines and things without.
  • What is the most important activity in your work flow? Invest the most in apps that help in that activity.
  • Remember only what you have to. Dump the rest in an app. Of course.

via These 11 apps are the key to productivity – Quartz.

Apps for Mobile Lawyers

Tom Mighell suggests some great apps for lawyers on the go in the most recent edition of Law Practice. This looks one looks particularly useful:

eFlightBoard. iOS, Android  Here’s a secret: Airlines are being less than honest with you when they post departure and arrival times on boards throughout the airport. That’s why I use FlightBoard, which provides accurate departure and arrival times for most flights. I usually switch the app to show arriving flights, so I can tell when my plane is going to get to the gate.

« Older Entries