When you need to get confidential paperwork to clients quickly, some will insist you email it to them. But that’s not the safest method to send sensitive information, since email can be hacked.

You could delete sensitive data like social insurance numbers, but then you’d have to write them back in when the documents return to you.

Read: How to keep clients’ data safe

Instead, quickly protect sensitive documents before emailing them so they can only be accessed with a password. You probably already have everything you need to do this on your computer.

Read: Your password is not safe: Deloitte

Follow these steps:

1. Put the files in a zip folder. (If you’re using a free program called jZip, it’s simply a matter of right-clicking on your desktop, selecting new > jZip archive file, then dragging the files into the zip folder.)

2. Right-click on the zip folder and select Explore. Windows Explorer should open with the zip folder highlighted.

3. In Windows Explorer select File > Add a Password.

4. Enter and confirm your password.

5. Confirm successful protection by opening the zip folder and trying to extract or open the documents. The file names should be marked with an asterisk to signify password protection and you should be prompted to enter a password before you can access the files.

6. Attach the zip folder to an email and send.

Read: Protect your identity on smartphones

Other points to consider

  • If you drag additional files into the zip folder after applying the protection, you will have to repeat the process for the new files.
  • An alternate method with jZip is to open the zip file and select Actions > Encrypt.
  • With either method you can drag an entire folder of documents into the zip file and protect all documents in the folder with one step by selecting the folder. This doesn’t protect the folder itself. It protects all files inside the folder with the same password.
  • The recipients need a zip program to extract the files. Read How To Work With Zip Files to find out why I recommend jZip.
  • Don’t include the password in the body of your email.

David Dagley, CFP®, is a software developer and Adobe javascript expert, with 15 years of financial planning experience. He is the owner and president of Forms Doctor Inc., a company specializing in workflow automation solutions and financial planning calculators for investment dealers, financial advisors, and investment firms.
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Technology is an integral part of investment management today yet most investment professionals have a limited interest in issues of security and privacy and simply trust service providers when all the liability remains with the manager. Double check your provider’s privacy policies and be sure you are protected.

Monday, Feb 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm Reply

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