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ABA TECHSHOW

Five Ways to Strengthen Your iPad’s Security

Excerpted from “Can A Tablet Replace the Attorney's PC?” TECHSHOW 2014

By Catherine Sanders Reach, ABA TECHSHOW Board 2015 and Bill Latham, ABA TECHSHOW 2014 presenter

Tablets have taken the legal world by storm. The question of whether a tablet can replace a lawyer’s PC is dependent upon the type of tablet involved, the technical proficiency of the attorney, the nature of their legal practice, and the back-office support available to them. For the past several years, the iPad has been the overwhelming choice for lawyers using tablets in their law practice. However, for most attorneys, the iPad will not suffice for all purposes. With the recent introduction of practical Windows-based tablets or Windows hybrid laptop/tablets, the line between laptop PCs and tablets is blurring. This is especially true for tablets that have a docking station function allowing the use of the computer like any other PC when in the office.  In deciding whether to choose between an iPad or a Windows tablet, the relative advantages and disadvantages of both platforms should be considered. The intuitive and easy-to-use iPad has many thousands of applications available, has an attractive interface, and is a mature design. The Windows based tablets tend to be more complex but benefit from the generally greater capabilities of Windows based systems required by power users. However, the reality is that most Windows users use only a fraction of the features available in the Microsoft office suite and other similar Windows-based productivity programs. In the end, it comes down to the practice needs of the individual attorney. Some, like your authors, use both PC laptops and the iPad, choosing the device that is most appropriate for the given task at hand.

Ethical Issues

So you love your new iPad and want to use it in your law practice. That likely means you are using it to store and communicate confidential client information. You may also be accessing your firm’s internal and cloud based systems. It is also quite possible that unlike your traditional work desktop/laptop, you may be tempted to share this repository of client secrets with your spouse, children or friends—because after all, the iPad is first and foremost a super cool entertainment machine—right? STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! If you want to use the iPad as a law practice tool and you value your license, clients and firm, then some basic security precautions are mandated:

 

1. Set a strong passcode. In my opinion, it is malpractice to not have the passcode feature activated if confidential client information is on your device. The default 4 digit code feature is inadequate if you are going to use the iPad out of the office (which of course you are). By default (unfortunately), the iPad comes with the Passcode off. Here's how to turn it on and set it:
  • Press Settings, then General. To the right, Passcode Lock should show Off, if you have not already enabled it. Press it; if you have already created a 4-digit passcode, you’ll be asked to enter it now.
  • On the Passcode Lock page, you’ll see Turn Passcode On. Don’t touch that yet. First, go to Simple Passcode and move it to the Off position. If it’s turned on, you can only create a simple, wholly inadequate 4-digit passcode.
  • Once Simple Passcode is turned off, press Turn Passcode On. You’ll be presented with a dialog box to enter your Passcode. Set a strong passcode! You can check out the strength of your pass word at this site: How Secure is My Password? You can enter any combination of number, letters, symbols - you are not limited in the length of your passcode. You’ll be asked to enter it twice, after which your passcode will be turned on. Also, press Require Passcode, and choose the time interval after which your iPad will require a Passcode to get back in. Choose a time period that isn’t so often that you are constantly having to enter your Passcode, but is short enough so that if you leave it alone for a short time no one can get into it.
2. Activate the free "Find My iPad" and "Remote Wipe" features. Apple's find your iPad feature through iCloud enables you to find your iPad (its location will be displayed on a map) if it is lost, send a loud location sound, post a message on the screen, and if need be the ability to remotely wipe all of the data from the device. Here are detailed set up instructions.

3. Set a time for your iPad to lock up if not used. In "Settings" choose "General" and then select the "Auto-Lock" feature. Pick a time limit. The shorter the better. This feature protects your client data if the iPad is not used for the specified period of time. Set your iPad to Auto-Wipe after Ten Failed Password Attempts. Your device can be set to Auto-Wipe all data after 10 failed password attempts. To access this feature in settings choose "Passcode Lock" and you will be prompted for your Passcode. After entering the Code, turn "Erase Data" on.

4. Regularly back up your data on iTunes in case your iPad is lost or damaged.  Here are detailed instructions.

5. Individually Password Protect Client Information If You "Must" Share Your iPad with Others. If you are going to allow your spouse, significant other, children, friends, random strangers or others to "play" with your "work" iPad (BAD IDEA!), then at a minimum secure confidential client information with an Application password. Many applications have their own password feature that will protect data in that application. For example: GoodReader, MobileNoter, and Readdle. Just keep in mind that letting someone use your iPad without protecting your confidential client information is like handing someone a brief case of client documents so that they can retrieve the magazine among the client papers. USE COMMON SENSE! Treat your iPad like you would a paper file of highly confidential client documents. Do not leave it unattended in unsecure areas. Keep it locked up when not in use.

If you follow these tips, confidential information on your iPad should be "reasonably" secure. Ignore them and your license may not be.

 


Reprinted with Permission. 2014© by the American Bar Association.  All rights reserved.  This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association