Keeping cloud secure

Many law firms are rightly moving to the cloud, but there are several crucial security issues they need to keep in mind and a number of key questions to ask when looking at their next strategic move, says Andy Baldin, VP of international business at NetDocuments

Sponsored editorial

Keeping client data secure is fundamental to any law firm, but with shifting workplace norms and the need for increased remote collaboration capabilities, maintaining that security is more important than ever. There’s no shortage of cloud solutions on the market offering easy remote collaboration and the ability to digitally store and manage thousands upon thousands of documents – but it’s critical to know how to find the right cloud solutions that provide the level of data security and compliance the legal industry requires.

For most lawyers, the need for secure data storage revolves primarily around documents and matter-related correspondence. Most law firms have already transitioned away from extensive (and expensive) storage of physical paper documents and towards on-premises digital storage through document management systems (DMS). Now, cloud-based DMSs are becoming the preferred way for law firms to store sensitive documents, in addition to opening up additional benefits:

  • Robust Security: Whereas on-premises systems rely on a law firm’s own IT and security resources – which have competing priorities – cloud providers have a strong incentive to commit extensive resources to securing their customers’ data.
  • Accessibility: Cloud storage enables legal professionals to securely access, search and manage files from anywhere and on any device.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: Storing documents in the cloud makes it simpler for lawyers to easily collaborate with both their colleagues and clients.
    Affordability: Compared to the setup and ongoing costs of on-premises digital storage solutions that require software licenses, hardware maintenance and more, cloud storage platforms are much less expensive, typically requiring only a one-time implementation cost plus predictable monthly user fees.

True cloud vs hosted cloud

While both true cloud and hosted cloud solutions offer secure digital document management, there are important differences to note. Also called SaaS (software as a service), ‘true cloud’ solutions are designed, developed and built on the cloud from the start. They are multi-tenant, meaning data is securely stored in data centres with connected servers, allowing customers to have their own private space within a network of shared computing resources.

Data is kept private, but because the cost of hosting the data is spread out among many users, these solutions tend to be more affordable. Also, true cloud solutions provide automatic updates across their entire user base (including software updates, data backups and security patches), taking the guesswork out of data security. This also means that each time a new type of compliance certificate is required, all users on the platform inherit it automatically, without any effort on their part.

Hosted cloud, on the other hand, are on-premises platforms adapted for cloud deployment rather than being cloud-native solutions. Hosted cloud solutions are single-tenant, storing data in a dedicated, private cloud.

True cloud solutions provide automatic updates across their entire user base (including software updates, data backups and security patches), taking the guesswork out of data security. This also means that each time a new type of compliance certificate is required, all users on the platform inherit it automatically

Because hosting costs are not split among all of the platform’s users – and when you add in maintenance fees and software licenses – hosted cloud solutions tend to be pricier.

Questions to ask before choosing a cloud solution

Here are a few important priorities to consider when deciding on a potential cloud storage solution.

  • How will the solution maintain or enhance security? A firm’s reputation hinges on client trust and the ability to keep client data safe, which means security should be a make-or-break factor when selecting any cloud solution.
  • Can user access be controlled down to the document level? The ability to granularly customise user access to each document ensures confidential information remains protected from unauthorised access.
  • Does the solution offer version control? Managing document collaboration can quickly become a headache if multiple, conflicting versions are being passed around. The ability to keep track of file versions, along with a complete version history, can help avoid confusion.
  • How does it integrate with the firm’s current work tools? Storage solutions should be able to seamlessly integrate within an existing working environment, which includes current tools, operating systems, and processes, so that it enhances, rather than hinders, productivity.
  • Does the solution offer any additional collaboration tools? Look at solutions that not only allow for documents to be passed back and forth between colleagues and clients, but also offer workflows, real-time communication, messaging, and more.
  • Will the provider stay compliant with regional regulations? Find out how the provider plans to consistently stay up-to-date with regional compliance regulations, how compliance updates may impact daily operations (and if it’s automated or requires manual intervention), and how client data is impacted with each update.

Due diligence will help ensure you know how to select the right tools, which features to prioritise and how well a solution will ensure your data stays safe and secure. The right cloud-based storage solution can provide unparalleled secure digital document management with the added benefit of a robust set of productivity and collaboration tools that is critical for the day-to-day operations of any law firm.

To find out more, visit: