Smartphone Security Tips for Attorneys

Smartphones make it easy to run a mobile office, but carrying your practice in your pocket carries additional security concerns.

Make sure you spend some time setting up and understanding the security functions (and limitations) of your smartphone.

Passwords are a must

If your phone is laying around with no password protection, anyone could pick it up and start rummaging around. If you have client information on there, that is not good. Depending on what type of phone you use, there are different security settings.

If you use an iPhone the default setting is a 4 digit passcode, which is better than nothing. Fortunately, you can switch off “simple passcode” and use an “advanced” passcode if you are running iOS 4.0 or higher. You can also tell your iPhone to erase all data after ten failed attempts, which provides a nice backup. For Android users, you can either use a swipe pattern or a standard passcode (if you are running Android 2.2).

Some apps, like Dropbox for iPhone, also allow you to setup a passcode to use the app. I love that feature. Like the iPhone itself, you can also elect to have Dropbox erase all Dropbox data after ten failed attempts to login.

Remote wipe provides another layer of protection

If you use an iPhone or Android device, you may have the option remotely wiping your phone. While this is a nice feature, it is not an excuse to leave your phone unlocked or ignore password protections.

One, you have to get to a computer to tell your phone to wipe itself. Two, not all remote wipes take place immediately—there can be a bit of a lag. In other words, if your phone is unlocked, by the time you order a remote wipe, whoever has your phone may have already found what that they were looking for.

Be practical with your phone

The biggest security risk with your smartphone is if you lose it. Treat your phone like your wallet—keep it on you at all times when you are out and about.

If you have a work smartphone that you are not required to carry at all times, don’t carry it at all times. Stick with your regular cell phone and leave your work phone at home when you venture out. If you are a solo attorney and use your smartphone for both, you need to keep your head on a swivel.

Avoid getting into the habit of putting your phone on a table while at lunch. Keep your phone in your pocket—like your wallet. One thing that helps keep me tabs on my phone is that I always carry it in the same pocket. If it is not there, I will notice almost immediately.



  1. Smartphone security is such an important topic to touch on in the legal field; thanks for doing so. Any security tips for smartphones other than the iPhone (like the Blackberry)?

    • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

      Blackberry is way behind iOS and Android in everything but security. It’s the only mobile OS I’m aware of that has data encryption as an option. Here’s how to set up encryption on your Blackberry. Make sure you’ve also got a good passcode set up, and you’re good.

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