Email security in its current form is inherently flawed and many lawyers are unaware of this disconcerting fact. Most emails are no more than mere postcards, the contents readily viewable by anyone who cares to look.
As each email travels from its starting point to its end destination, it traverses an untold number of servers and can be intercepted and viewed by virtually anyone with the proper technological know-how and desire. A number of states, including Massachusetts and Nevada, already have passed laws or regulations requiring certain types of confidential data to be sent electronically only via encrypted communications. More laws of that nature most certainly will follow, both at the state and federal level.
In my opinion, encryption laws — most of which currently apply primarily to financial institutions — ultimately will incorporate some of the types of client information contained in attorney-client communications, in large part because of rising concerns due to recent large-scale data disclosures.
The inherent security flaw in email as it now exists places confidential client data at risk. Accordingly, I predict that within two to three years, lawyers in most jurisdictions will choose to, or be required to, communicate and collaborate with clients using some type of an encrypted network.
Many cloud computing platforms already incorporate some form of encrypted client communication into their platforms, thus providing a ready-made solution to the problem of unencrypted, insecure email. For many lawyers, this may well be the primary factor that convinces them to accept cloud computing services as a legitimate law practice management alternative to traditional software packages.
It is for that reason that I believe that cloud computing is the wave of the future and encrypted communication is one of the keys to putting attorneys’ minds at ease regarding an emerging technology. Astute providers will incorporate encrypted communication into their platforms and smart lawyers will learn about and use emerging technologies that offer encrypted client communications in their law practice.