Q: Do I have to encrypt sensitive emails and attachments to clients? If so, what should I use?
A: To be safe, yes, you should use email encryption or another secure method to send sensitive client messages and documents.
ABA Formal Opinion 477R, revised May 22, 2017, provides guidance but not an absolute requirement to use encrypted email for all client communications. For analysis of the opinion, see: New ABA Guidance on Electronic Client Communications, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/publications/litigation-news/top-stories/2017/new-aba-guidance-on-electronic-client-communications/
What are your options for securely sending sensitive messages and documents?
- Client portals in many cloud practice management systems allow you to securely exchange documents and messages saved as documents.
- Tutanota, tutanota.com, offers a free service for sending and receiving encrypted emails and attachments from a private webmail account. Using this simple application, you give each client a password they will need to open your secure emails delivered to their inboxes. For $1 per month, a Premium account sends notification emails to your main email address when clients send you secure emails.
- Rmail, rmail.com, has a free plan lets you send five secure messages per month. The Professional plan, $14.99 per month annually lets clients open secure emails without a password in most cases. All plans included registered mail that proves delivery.
- Sharefile, sharefile.com, at $16/month for one user or $60/month for five users is a popular service for professionals. Unlike most other options, it does not require your clients to use a password.
- File-sharing features of cloud services can create password-protected links you can send to your clients. Box, box.com, has the best reputation. The well-known services Dropbox, www.dropbox.com, and OneDrive, www.onedrive.com, have been successfully exploited by hackers.
- Microsoft Outlook can support the transmission of encrypted email, but it can be complicated to set it up.
For simplicity of setup and no or low cost, Tutanota wins. For more powerful capabilities and for avoiding required password use by your clients, consider some of the other options.
Originally published in the Ask Techie column of GPSolo eReport.