Here is the recording from the latest presentation in our Legal Productivity webinar series: Security and Productivity Tips for Mac Lawyers with Terry Jarrell.

Terry also provided, below, a few details on some of the basic security measures, applications, and resources covered in the presentation.

The Basics

To find out the details about your Mac, choose “About This Mac” under the Apple icon at the top left of your screen. Here you will find the version of OS X or macOS that you’re running, year model, processor and memory details under the “Overview” tab. To check for software updates, click on the “Software Update” button in “Overview.”

For more details on how much room you are using on your hard disk choose “Storage.”

System Preferences

The place to control and configure your Mac is called “System Preferences” which you can access under the Apple icon at the top left corner of your screen. While there are many different panes to explore, we will focus on a few related to configuring security settings and iCloud.

Security and Privacy

Here you will find four tabs; General, FileVault, Firewall and Privacy.

General: Adjust login password, allow apps downloaded to be opened from different sources.

FileVault: Secures your data by automatically encrypting its contents.

Firewall: Enable the built-in firewall to allow specific incoming connections to your Mac.

Privacy: Control and manage which services are allowed by different applications.

Energy Saver

Set the time allowed before your Mac goes to sleep and logs out automatically.

iCloud

Apple’s cloud service includes the ability to sync Contacts, Calendars and other commonly used services.
Particular attention is given to “Find My Mac.” With Find My Mac enabled you have the ability to locate, lock or erase your lost or stolen Mac from any computer with a browser and Internet connection. You can also use the corresponding iPhone and iPad app to locate. Simply log into iCloud at www.icloud.com and sing in using your account user name and password then follow the Find My Phone prompts.

Internet Accounts

Whether you use iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange or most other services for your email, contacts, calendars and notes, you can add and configure them here. Add a new account by selecting the service in the right hand column. If your service is not listed, scroll to the bottom of the column and select “Add Other Account.”

Email

Keep in mind that free, consumer-level email accounts are easily hacked and not considered secure. A quick Google search will find cases where attorney’s ‘open’ email accounts have resulted in data loss, hacking and lawsuits against the attorney. Email is critical to your daily communication and the security of your messages cannot be taken for granted.

Use a higher level, paid professional service for better security. Google Apps (paid) is an example that offers stronger email security and for even better encryption services such as HushMail (www.hushmail.com) take encryption to even higher levels.

Backups

With mobile Macs, backups become an even more important factor to consider. What if your MacBook is lost, stolen or damaged?

Two options are strongly recommended.

Time Machine is already built in to your Mac and is very simple to set up and use. You will need an external hard drive at least equal in size to your Mac’s hard drive. Plug in the external drive and you will be presented with a dialog window asking if you would like this to be your backup drive. Agree and let it begin. The initial backup may take some time but subsequent backups run very quickly. As long as your external drive is connected to your Mac, it will automatically run every hour.

BackBlaze (www.backblaze.com) is a second option that is ideally suited for mobile users. BackBlaze works very much like Time Machine however your data is stored in the cloud. Remember, if you have your external Time Machine drive in the same bag as your Mac, and the whole thing is lost or stolen, your backup is gone along with your Mac. BackBlaze is impossible to lose and you can also access a full data set if needed. Pricing is very reasonable and security is high.

Cloud Services

While there are many options for storing and accessing your files and data in the cloud, some of the more popular options are mentioned here.

Dropbox is arguably the most popular cloud service for storing and sharing files. Generally, Dropbox offers good security and encryption standards but since they hold the encryption keys, your data could be accessed from their side in certain circumstances. Dropbox should be used mainly for syncing your data between your devices rather than as a backup.

OneDrive is another excellent choice. Giving you a very generous 1 TB of storage space, it also automatically works with Office apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint making it easy to start a project on your Mac then pick it up later for editing on your iPad. The security and encryption is also good and works similar to Dropbox.

BoxCryptor (www.boxcryptor.com) is the answer for encrypting your data before you sync it with Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and many other cloud services. BoxCryptor works by linking to your chosen accounts and by adding your files through the BoxCryptor application they are encrypted on your Mac or iPad first, with only you holding the keys to unlock the file.

Note Taking

Notes is the built-in application for taking quick notes, making lists and keeping track of anything you like. Notes automatically syncs via iCloud with your iPad an Phone to give you access to your notes anywhere, anytime. Notes has recently gained some useful features such as the ability to lock individual notes for assed security and for iPad Pro users, you can use the Apple Pencil to draw or write freehand.

Notability is a notable (pun intended!) option. While Notability also offers the similar ability to create typed or handwritten notes, it adds the ability to import items such as photos, PDFs and other documents. You can then annotate, write or draw directly on top of these items to highlight or sign documents. Perhaps the handiest trick is the ability to record ambient audio while you type or write. The audio is tagged along with your writing activity so at any point in later playback, you can tap on an item you had typed or written and the corresponding audio that was being heard at that time begins to play from that point. Excellent for meetings when you need to refer back to spoken audio related to your typed notes.