Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Are Encrypted Messaging Apps for the Paranoid or Lawyers?

In Steve Martin's comedy Bowfinger, a no-budget filmmaker follows a famous actor around Hollywood and secretly films him to piece together a movie.

The big problem is, the movie star is paranoid. When his adviser discovers the surreptitious recording, he observes: "Well, I guess it's true; it's not paranoia when someone's really after you."

That's a long intro for this point: you are not paranoid if you think someone is tracking your phone, text messages, and other communications. But the movie is hilarious and there's an app for those who are worried about cell phone security.

Encrypted Messages

Signal is a secure messaging app. According to one review, it's the only application that really mattered this year. For attorneys with a legal and ethical duty to maintain confidential communications, it's more than that.

"For the uninitiated, Signal is a free and secure messaging application that allows for encrypted texts, phone calls, and video chats between users," Mashable reports.

The ezine says the app is as easy to use as sending a text message. Offered by Whisper Systems, the app is free.

"There are no ads, no affiliate marketers, no creepy tracking," the company explains on its website. "Just open technology for a fast, simple, and secure messaging experience."

Confidentiality Plus

Call it tracking, spying, or movie-making, cybersecurity is no joke. Big Brother has been following you, too, and he has many names: the FBI, Facebook, Steve Martin.

Seriously, lawyers have to be extra vigilant about client confidentiality in the cellphone age. Newer smartphones have built-in encryption technologies, and many apps offer privacy protection. But users should check settings and update software regularly because even "anonymous" programs are not completely secure.

Whisper, for example, keeps geolocation information that can reveal a user's location. While a user can turn off geolocation services on a device, the company can still extract a location from IP data.

That could be a big problem for people who don't want to be followed -- clients, lawyers, and movie stars included.

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