USB Flash Drives and Client Confidentiality, pt. 1: Macs in 10 Easy Steps

The age old question: does size really matter? In the digital age, the smaller the device, the bigger the storage capacity. This is great when you want to easily take your case files back and forth between home and the office, but not so great when you lose it.

If you’ve got confidential files on one of these flash drives, you’re in danger of violating your client’s confidentiality. Confidentiality is one of the most important aspect of the client-lawyer relationship, so how are YOU protecting it?

Just so everyone’s on the same page, here’s a brief description of a flash drive. If you know what it is, feel free to skip ahead to the next section.

What are Flash Drives?

USB Flash Drives are small, portable storage devices that tend to weigh less than 30g and can store as much as 1 Terra-bite in a device. These devices can store any file type you decide to save to it, and almost every device can use it, even the iPad in a limited manner.

How Do I Protect My Information (and My Client)? Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My Mac.

While nothing is absolutely hack-proof, the best way to protect your information is to encrypt your information with a password. Depending on how your flash drive is formatted, a PC might not be able to read the files on the flash drive. This is a problem if you own a Mac at home and use a PC at the office, or vice versa. Here’s a great article on formatting, if you are interested in learning more or making sure your drive is formatted so both Macs and PCs can read the device.

For now, I’ll just explain how you encrypt your flash drive on a Mac. In a future post, I’ll explain how to do this on a PC.

Encryption on a Mac

1) Open your Application Folder

2) Open your Utilities Folder

3) Open “Disk Utility”

4) Go to File > New > Blank Disk Image

5) Select your USB stick as the destination and choose one of the encryption options.

6) Customize to your settings

7) The Encrypted portion will now be located as a file inside of your Flash drive with whatever name you gave it.

8) When you double click the file, it will prompt you to put in your password. Enter your password to get access to your encrypted portion.

9) The “disk image” should mount as a new disk under your flash drive, where you can then drop any files on there.

10) Eject the “disk image” and eject the flash drive. You’re done!

That’s everything!

There are three great advantages to this method:

  1. You can have an encrypted flash drive that can be read by both Mac & PC.
  2. If you want, you can make the “Disk Image” only take up a part of the flash drive, allowing you to store bothencrypted and unencrypted files on the same flash drive (if you use it is for both work and personal use).
  3. You can have multiple encrypted portions that allow you to share a single flash drive with a variety of different people without the fear of a breach in confidentiality as long as you use multiple passwords.

Come back for our next installment!

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