How to Keep Prying Eyes Away from a Lawyer's Private Communications
Security is a big deal in the digital age, but even the most sophisticated laptops and smartphones are susceptible to low-tech snooping. How can you protect your email, texts, and attorney work product from prying eyes, including those of other lawyers?
The issue came up in a Texas courtroom last week, when a court staffer allegedly caught a prosecutor and defense lawyer reading a text message on a judge's phone, ABA Journal reports. One of the lawyers said he accidentally read the message after mistaking the judge's phone for his own; the judge ordered the lawyers to attend ethics classes.
Even if such snooping was inadvertent, there are some ways to make the information on your screen more private and more difficult to access. Here are five suggestions:
- Install privacy filters. These thin sheets of material can make your laptop screen unreadable by prying eyes from side angles, while allowing a user directly in front of your screen to see what you're doing. Several companies make these, and they're also available for smartphones.
- Turn off mail and text notifications. Pop-up messages on your laptop or smartphone can notify snoops that you've got mail or texts. These can be especially risky if the pop-up also includes a few lines of text from the message itself. Online guides show how to turn off these notifications on iPhones and on Android phones.
- Lock your devices with passwords. In case prying eyes are accompanied by fast fingers, you'll also want to password-protect or otherwise "lock" your laptops and smartphones with some sort of security feature. For additional security, it's best to use different passwords for different devices and accounts.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. In the digital age, prying eyes can also come in the form of hackers, especially on public Wi-Fi networks that are typically unsecured. Check out these tips to protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi.
- Be afraid. Be very afraid. Don't ever let your guard down. Just being aware of your surroundings and potential security risks is half the battle when it comes to keeping prying eyes away from a lawyer's laptops and smartphones.
- Attorneys Ordered to Take Ethics Class (Corpus Christi, Texas' KIII-TV)
- Top 3 Password Managers for Your Law Practice (FindLaw's Technologist)
- The Laptop Buying Guide for Lawyers (FindLaw's Technologist)
- 5 Must-Have Legal Gadgets for Every Attorney (FindLaw's Technologist)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.