Lawyers need a way to communicate securely with clients, if not about everything, then about especially sensitive matters. It’s just too easy for a spouse, coworker, employer, or malicious hacker to intercept email. If you don’t have a way to communicate securely with clients or you have had trouble getting clients to use your existing communication portal, try Signal.
Signal is a free messaging app for iPhone and Android. If you’ve texted or used iMessage, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or any of a dozen other messaging utilities, you know what it’s like. Everyone knows how to install apps, and everyone knows how to use messaging apps. Like most messaging apps now do, Signal also supports voice calls.
Perhaps the best part is that all you need to use Signal is your phone number. There’s no other account to create or password to remember. It’s easier to set up than Facebook or Twitter.
Signal is pretty similar to other messaging apps, with one big difference: Signal uses zero-knowledge, end-to-end encryption to that nobody outside the conversation can get your messages.
Seriously. When the FBI forced Open Whisper Systems to turn over the data it had on some of its users, this is all it had:
If that redacted image is not clear, the only information OWS was able to turn over was a timestamp of the first time the user created their account and a timestamp of the last time the user logged in. That’s it.
That’s pretty secure. But don’t take my word for it. Signal gets some pretty weighty endorsements:
Why Signal Might Be Better for Communicating with Clients
On the one hand, Signal is basically a secure text-messaging app. And it’s for phones, so it favors short messages, not detailed explanations of your negotiation strategy.
For longer communications, though, Signal gives you more options. If you need to send your client a letter, for example, you could encrypt a Word document, email it to your client, and use Signal to send them the password.
That may feel clunkier than just using the secure portal built into your cloud-based practice management software, but it may be easier for the client, and it may even be more secure. There are two potential problems with asking your clients to log into your practice management software:
- If they use a password they also use on other websites, the security is drastically reduced.
- If they use a secure password they can’t remember, they aren’t going to get your messages.
So in addition to teaching clients how to use your communication portal, you have to teach them about password security and probably urge them to adopt a good password manager and two-factor authentication. Otherwise, your secure communication portal might not actually be all that secure.
With Signal, your clients can install and set up the app in a few seconds. You can do it the first time you meet with them. And Signal notifies them of new messages just like any other messaging app, so your clients won’t miss your messages.
Signal might be the most convenient tool yet for communicating securely with clients.