Disaster Planning: Turn Off Email Address Autocomplete

February LPMT Tech Tip

Headline after headline after headline reveal attorneys suffering disaster because of mis-sending email. While slowing down and paying more attention can help, turning off some of the convenience features built into email applications can’t hurt. In MS Outlook (2010 & 2013) go to File – Options – Mail – Send Messages and uncheck “Use Auto-Complete List to Suggest Names when Typing in the To, CC, and BCC Lines”.






Then click on “Empty Auto Complete List”.

autocomplete button





If that seems a bit too nuclear you can selectively remove old or easy to abuse AutoComplete email addresses that appear in email by clicking on the X next to the name that appears. This will clear it from your auto-complete list.removefromlist






If you use keyboard shortcuts like <Cntrl + Enter> to send an email you can turn it off. Why? Because this method  is so quick that it can be dangerous! You can turn off that shortcut by unchecking the option box, which appears in the same options menu as turning off AutoComplete. Now you won’t be able to create a disaster in the blink of an eye.






For Gmail you must delete individual contacts for them not to show up in AutoComplete, though you can go to Settings and choose to add contacts youself instead of the default “When I send a message to a new person, add them to Other Contacts so that I can auto-complete to them next time”.



There are other remedies for common mistakes like the “Reply All” monitor from Sperry for MS Outlook or Google’s “Undo” option in Labs (which can also be done in MS Outlook and is actually just putting a short delay on the “send” time). However, the main way to having embarrassing, costly or worse things happen from misuse of email is just to slow down on the send button.


Email Encryption For Everyone

The recent confirmation that the US government, through the NSA’s PRISM surveillance, collects massive amounts of electronic data is really only the tip of the iceburg when viewed in light of all of the potential exposure email has to unauthorized access. From hackers to governments to law enforcement to targeted espionage to identity thieves, there are many who may want to access and view your email and its attachments.

Depending on the type of client you represent and the work you do unencrypted email exchange may not provide enough protection for confidential communication. The ABA’s formal opinion from 1999 on email encryption (99-413) generally allows for use of email to communicate with clients, but also provides the caveat that “when the lawyer reasonably believes that confidential client information being transmitted is so highly sensitive that extraordinary measures to protect the transmission are warranted, the lawyer should consult the client as to whether another mode of transmission is, such as special messenger delivery, is warranted..”

Much has changed since 1999. Commentary in the opinion states: “[t]he Committee believes that e-mail communications, including those sent unencrypted over the Internet, pose no greater risk of interception or disclosure than other modes of communication commonly relied upon as having a reasonable expectation of privacy. The level of legal protection accorded e-mail transmissions, like that accorded other modes of electronic communication, also supports the reasonableness of an expectation of privacy for unencrypted e-mail transmissions. ” Read in light of the known, legal interception of email transmission by the government and the increased use of webmail services that offer free service in exchange for access to the text of the email is it still reasonable to rely on an expectation of privacy and legal protection of email transmissions?

There are a variety of ways to encrypt email communications. For large firms working with corporate clients, firms representing governments, lawyers representing political prisoners and other circumstances may require an end to end encryption solution such as PGP to be set up and used by both parties. Once in place the process is relatively seamless. Lifehacker provides a great guide on end to end encryption for email clients and webmail..

However, lawyers who work with consumer clients including estate planning, family law, bankruptcy, criminal, real estate, civil rights etc. may not have a long term relationship with their clients or have the level of sensitivity in the communication that warrants a long term encryption key exchange. For those situations attorneys can still encrypt email on a short term or case by case basis by using some of the “on demand” email encryption options available. These tools are often free for limited use and while they do not provide the level of protection afforded by traditional email encryption they do provide some peace of mind. The article Easy Encryption for Email is Not an Oxymoron provides information on three such services that employ different models for protection. To see these easy encryption options in action check out the How To… video from the Chicago Bar Association’s LPMT.

Power up the free Google Calendar

There’s plenty to take advantage of in the free Google Calendar—features like creating and sharing multiple calendars, “quick add” smart appointments and the ability to make calendars public. In this article I dig in to unearth a few neat tricks to integrate your Calendar more tightly with Gmail and Tasks. With some exploring and clicking, you will find the free Google Calendar and productivity tools are quite robust, and with a little know-how, have more integration than meets the eye. Check it out … 

Want more? Watch the training video from the Chicago Bar Association and check out these articles and resources:

Chrome: The Browser That Works

Google’s Chrome web browser is a stable, fast, and functional piece of software used to access the Internet.  For many years Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominated the browser market, followed by Mozilla’s Firefox.  Google released Chrome in September 2008, and now its usage has surpassed Firefox and Internet Explorer globally.  However, Internet Explorer is still the leader in North America according to StatCounter Top 5 Browsers in North America from Sept. 2008 to Oct 2012. This especially holds true for U.S. lawyers, who according to the 2012 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report Vol. II,  primarily use Microsoft Internet Explorer at 85%, followed by Firefox at 30%, and finally Google Chrome at 22%. So, what does the rest of the world find so appealing in Google’s Chrome? Let’s take a look!

Read more: Google’s Chrome Browser

Layering Security: Two Factor Authentication

“In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. And worst of all, my AppleID account was broken into, and my hackers used it to remotely erase all of the data on my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.”

Thus starts the story of Mat Honan, a writer for Wired Magazine. Mat’s story should be a cautionary tale for all, especially lawyers whose duties to maintain the confidentiality of client data extend the need for added security beyond just personal inconvenience.  Mat admits that much of what happened could have been avoided by using two factor authentication on his Google account and other security measures.  So, why didn’t he do it? Because adding layers of security means adding a layer of complication, and sometimes inconvenience. However, to unravel from a firm security breach or hack would be even more inconvenient.

Google’s Gmail, Google Chrome, LastPass, Dropbox, WordPress and many other popular services have added an extra layer of security that a user must enable called “two factor authentication”.  The concept of this security is that a person cannot access another user’s account without something she knows and something she has. In the case of these popular services the solution is a strong password plus a secondary code that is sent via text to a smartphone or mobile device.  Both are required to access the account. For two factor access to laptops there are devices like USB tokens and smart cards that must be plugged in for the machine to boot up. Likewise you can buy external biometric security devices, such as a fingerprint reader, which is a substitution for what the user has to what the user is.

The SANS Institute OUCH! newsletter this month provides further information and links on two factor authentication for popular online services. When enabling two factor authentication make sure to read all the instructions carefully. Matt Cuts blogs for Google on how the two factor authentication works with Gmail, and dispels some myths about any perceived difficulties this may add to accessing your email.

Want to learn more about security best practices for your law firm? Sign up for the CBA CLE (1.5 IL PR Credit)  “Lighting the Corners: Security Best Practices”  in person or webcast on November 20 at 12 CT.

Offline Google Docs Tutorial

A fantastic general tech blog, GroovyPost, just posted a nice step-by-step tutorial on “How to Enable and Set Up Google Docs Offline“.  Sometimes you need offline access to files in “the cloud” and it is nice that Google works to make files available  locally.  In fact, you can access most of Google’s services offline, such as Gmail and calendaring. What about other services? Read my recent article on accessing your law office email, files and matters offline in “Fog Bank: When the Cloud is Down“.

Google Places is now Google+ Local

Google has incorporated Google Profiles and Google Places into Google+. In the past lawyers could boost their online presence by filling out a free Google Profile, which created a publicly available profile that included pictures, hobbies, personal and professional interests. You could link to your webpage, blog, LinkedIn profile or anything else you’d like to share.  Profiles are no longer standalone,  but rather serve as the “About” information in your Google+ profile. Since lawyers can now create business pages in Google+, you can choose to create a personal and/or professional profile in Google+ now.

More recently Google+ incorporated Google Places,  which let you add your firm to Google Maps and create a local business listing. Ultimately this means that people will have more ways to discover your Google+ business listing, as the information will appear in general search results, as well as Google+, maps, mobile search, etc. It will also make local search results more social, enticing user comments and “indeed, it gives Google a local vehicle with functionality equivalent to Facebook and Twitter.”  Google reminds you: “It’s a good idea to create a Google Places account using an email address that you don’t mind sharing with others or passing along, in case you wish to transfer ownership of your listings.”

If you already had a Google Places page you will find that it has been moved for you to Google+ Local. Google has a support page for FAQ about Google Places content migration if you have questions, or if you information didn’t completely transfer. If you are interested in doing more with a Google+ business page for your firm, see the CBA LPMT “How to… Create a Google+ Business Page” archived webcast and materials.

Additionally you can take advantage of similar local profile listings from Yahoo! Local Search, Bing Business Portal, and Yelp.

Fog Bank: When the Cloud Is Down

Read my Attorney At Work article on how lawyers who are dependent on the cloud can be productive even when offline:

Sometimes you just don’t have access to the Internet. Whether you’re traveling in a plane, or in a remote (or sometimes not so remote) area that has no WiFi, 3G or 4G coverage, or simply because your cable or T1 line is down due to weather or some other outage, on occasion you will have some forced downtime because you can’t access your cloud-based documents, send emails, or pull up a client’s contact information from a cloud-based provider. In fact, it is likely to happen at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately, there are ways to access online information locally.

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