Security Reasons Why Law Firms Are Moving to the Cloud
Data security remains an issue and concern and this is why law firms are still reluctant to migrate to cloud-computing platform while others are already running their businesses on it.
The issue stems from security concerns and lack of control over data — having a third party handling the “cloud”.
It is understandable that data security should be the main priority, hence this article discusses so.
What is the Issue?
Data breach, the main concern of this digital world, has been shaking the security measures of companies all over the world.
It should come as to no surprise that we’ll be facing bigger and worse data breaches in the years to come.
Steve Morgan of Cybersecurity Ventures reported that the Global ransomware damage cost is predicted to exceed $11.5 billion annually by 2019. Not only that, Steve also reported that annually by 2021, cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion.
What a time for IT professionals!
The year 2017 had many cybercrime casualties. We’ve had countless of cybercrimes which affected millions of people around the globe. Here’s a short list of huge data breaches that happened and/or were revealed last year:
- Forever 21 (December 2017)
The American fast fashion retailer, Forever 21, confirmed a breach of its systems in the week before 2017 ended. The breach let hackers steal customers’ credit card data (cc numbers, expiry dates, verification codes and cardholder names for some) between April 3 and November 18, 2017. The breach was due to the encryption of some of point-of-sale (POS) terminals which were sometimes off.
- eBay (December 2017)
As a result of an “improper feed signal” between eBay and Google, customers’ real and first names were revealed in Google Shopping page featuring reviews from customers’ purchased products. The leak exposed customers’ highly sensitive purchase history such as drug testing kits, pregnancy tests, and HIV home test kits.
- Uber (November 2017)
The global transportation tech company, Uber, disclosed in November 2017 a data leak that happened to their company a year before (Oct 2016). Uber concealed the leak from authorities and its customers, compromising the data of 57 million users and driver’s license information of its 7 million drivers. Uber even paid hackers $100,000 to transfer the stolen data back.
- Equifax Inc. (July 2017)
A data breach happened to Equifax last year that compromised personal information of 143 million American consumers including names, social security numbers, birthdates, credit card data and driver’s license number.
- Verizon (July 2017), Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem (June 2017), Gmail (May 2017), Xbox 360 ISO and PSP ISO (February 2017), and more.
These explain Mr. Morgan’s prediction above.
But, What’s the Real Issue?
Fear of cyber attacks is probably one of the reasons why companies are on the hunt for IT security professionals nowadays.
But, let’s check. Are those data breaches due to security failures of the cloud-computing platform?
If you dig in on the real issue here and really study the cause of each data breach, you’d see that these breaches were not really shortcomings in the cloud and not by hacking the cloud itself. These breaches were results of human error, lack of cybersecurity measures, hackers getting information from third-party vendors or are were sabotage from within.
“Nowadays, computing clouds are everywhere — which is one reason people worry about their security. We hear more and more often about hackers coming over the internet and looting the data of thousands of people. Most of those attacks hit traditional servers, though. None of the most catastrophic hacks have been on the big public clouds.”
Jason Reichl, CEO of Go Nimbly via Clutch,
“Many recent data breaches have been reported incorrectly. For example, the security breach at Target occurred because a vendor who had access to the company’s portal left a computer on and walked away. No one was hacking the Cloud. It was human error, and the Cloud cannot protect you from that.”
What is the Cloud?
We’ve been talking about the cloud-computing platform since the start of this article.
Now, what does the Cloud mean?
The Cloud, to quote Bonnie Cha of Recode, has nothing to do with white fluffy things in the sky. To continue, she said: Your data isn’t actually in heaven or in the wind. It has a terrestrial home. It’s stored somewhere — lots of somewheres — and the network of servers find what you need and deliver it.
The cloud or cloud-computing is an off-premise form of storage that often runs on the Internet. Cloud-based data is stored in data centers somewhere else, instead of locally saving data on devices like hard drives. It is an IT paradigm of shared software and services stored in many many places and are accessed using the cloud-based system and or the Internet.
Examples of cloud-based services are high-profile companies like Netflix, Gmail, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox.
So where does cloud storage reside?
Let’s take Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example. The AWS Cloud operates 49 Availability Zones within 18 geographic Regions around the world. They have data centers at US East, US West, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, South Africa and more.
Cloud storage reside all over the world. Some large companies have their private clouds too, which also reside near their company and or all over the world as well.
Why Are Law Firms Moving to the Cloud?
According to the 2017 Survey of American Bar Association (ABA), the following are the biggest concerns of lawyers regarding cloud usage:
- Confidentiality/security concerns (69%, down from 72% in 2016)
- Concerns about losing control of data (49%, down from 57%)
- Concerns about losing control over updates (25%)
- Vendor longevity (21%)
Now let’s hear why other lawyers and law firms are choosing cloud-based services despite the biggest concerns above.
- Control Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Security
Law firms handle extremely confidential information of clients and businesses. It is undeniable that security is a top priority.
Document management is one of the most crucial parts of every law firm. Where and how to securely keep confidential documents away from unauthorized individuals need a strategic approach.
Knowing the nature of the cloud, however, I agree that it doesn’t feel right when confidential data is stored on other servers somewhere in the world. It doesn’t feel secure.
Lack of control over data and trusting classified data to a third-party cloud-company just does not seem acceptable.
But, knowing the nature of the cloud, does the physical location of your data matters most?
Does having your own data center equates to a perfect security against cyber-criminals and on-premise attacks?
Cloud-based services are built with security on top of their priorities. Having a network of data centers all over the world works in tandem to keep data even more secure and provide high availability to its clients.
David Linthicum, Senior Vice President, Cloud Technology Partners,
“The physical location of your data matters less than the means of access. Those who build cloud-based platforms for enterprises typically focus more on security and governance than those who build systems that will exist inside firewalls.”
Duane Tharp, Vice President of Technical Sales and Services, Cloud-Elements via Clutch,
“If you were to look at the skill set in a single organization and compare it to another organization that specializes in a specific solution, all things being equal, you would expect the specialized company to provide the best service. This is how it is with the Cloud. The cloud vendor will have good, if not better, security and support for security than any one company.”
And this is also true for small and medium businesses as much as it is for enterprises.
Knowing the security concerns, it is sure that cloud services use the most sophisticated and the latest security measures.
That’s why some law firms have found confidence in the cloud. According to the ABA survey:
Cloud usage grew more than 40% from 2016 to 2017, from 37% to just over 52%. Solos and small firms continue to lead the way.
Law firms have conquered the fear losing control and are now embracing the benefits of the modern approach to data security.
- The cloud is constantly monitored
Cloud-computing platforms are constantly monitored by IT experts to maintain top security and minimize downtime. In case concerns arise, highly skilled IT professionals are there to aid.
- Amazon CloudWatch
- It’s physically secure
We know that we’re not only dealing with virtual security when we talk about the cloud. Since data centers are located in many places, physical security is also a topmost priority of cloud service providers.
IT hardware inside a data center are always under high-security surveillance against unauthorized access. They are also well protected against natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and others.
Data centers of cloud service providers are built with strong perimeters and multi-layered security preventing and monitoring any attempt of a physical breach.
What are the Other Advantages of using the Cloud?
Aside from the security benefits of using the cloud, there are also tons of other advantages it offers. Check this quick list below:
- Promotes remote working by accessible data anytime and anywhere
- Cuts IT operation cost
- Maximizes online productivity
- Saves money from IT infrastructure
- Predictable monthly expenses
- Storage and price is customizable depending on needs
- Support from highly skilled IT specialists from cloud services
- Lots of web-based software services to choose from
- Secure cloud storage
People fear what they don’t know, they say.
When we don’t understand something, we tend to be fearful. Many of us have not leveraged the use of technology because of it. Instead of learning and studying to be able to understand, we worry, then we try to control things.
But now that we understand more what the cloud offers, maybe it’s time for a change?
How about acquiring a cloud-based collaboration platform that is made specifically for law firms, like Dead Drop Software? It’s created with bank-level security and is perfect for document management secure from prying eyes?
This year will be another chance to reach goals and milestones.
Maybe you’ll need a real game changer. Think the cloud may suit as a new year’s gift to your business?