Lawyer with a New iPad? Using it for Legal Work? Let’s Talk Security.

So you love your new iPad and want to use it in your law practice.  That likely means 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:

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.

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. Detailed set up instructions Link.

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.

REGULARLY BACK UP YOUR DATA ON iTUNES IN CASE YOUR iPAD IS LOST OR DAMAGED.  Detailed instructions.

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.


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