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Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Sept 2019, Vol 39 No 1

Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Tighten Security of Your Email and Browser

By Michael Fenger, esq.

Large firms have the assets to implement extensive security for their computer networks. But, what about the solos and small firms who aren’t ready to make significant investment in these types of solutions? Fortunately, there are a couple of inexpensive steps one can take to improve these systems’ security. I have a couple that I have used and can recommend.

Email. The big, free players have increased their security features over the years, but security concerns remain, especially regarding free accounts. It is also true that emails can pass through unsecured servers on their way from sender to receiver, and they can conceivably be vulnerable to hackers at that point. (Also note that the “do not track” setting on some email programs should not be relied on, as it really does not affect the fact that emails can still pass through unsecured servers.) Proton Mail (protonmail.com) is a company based in Switzerland that provides various levels of accounts, including a free version. A solo attorney can probably get by with the Plus version, at $48 per year, but for those with more attorneys and staff, the Professional version, at $75 per user per year is probably the way to go. Each of these versions provide for five addresses per user, custom domains, and support. Once an attorney has selected the best option for his or her practice, it is a simple matter to have clients sign up for the free version, so that email between the client and the attorney is encrypted on both ends. (Non-Proton Mail emails are still encrypted, though the client will need an encryption key to decrypt emails from the attorney.) It seems well worth exploring this option if you have concerns about email security. It does seem inevitable that, as time passes, greater security will become the standard of care so getting out in front and exploring what’s out there makes sense.

Web Browser. When I first planned to write this article, I thought I would recommend the Opera browser, which advertises a free VPN (Virtual Private Network) feature. However, a little research has made me a little leery of recommending it. Yes, it does seem to provide greater security than other browsers, but it appears not to be a true VPN, in that it does seem to log your behavior. Perhaps they will improve their security features, but for now I think you get what you pay for.

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