It’s Halloween, which means there’s plenty to be scared of—ghouls and ghosts, zombies and vampires, or your expanding waistline after consuming bags full of candy. But does ‘cloud computing’ deserve a place on the list of things that go bump in the night? Law firms, particularly small and solos, can no longer afford to shun the cost efficacy, flexibility, and competitive advantage that cloud solutions provide them. Odds are you’re already using a cloud solution of some sort—whether it be an email provider (such as Gmail or Outlook.com), storage provider (like Dropbox or Box.com), or accounting solution (for example, Xero or QuickBooks Online). The benefits that cloud solutions provide are numerous—below are some suggestions on how to fight back against the fear that might paralyze you if you’re considering moving to the cloud.
Everyone knows that a stake through the heart will kill a vampire, whereas dispatching a zombie requires a headshot. But what do you know about your cloud service provider? 19 states have so far provided formal ethics opinions on cloud computing and SaaS solutions, and nearly all advise doing a thorough review of your cloud provider’s security standards, data storage and data ownership policies, and server locations. Any SaaS company worth its salt should be open and willing to provide this information—if not, that’s a huge red flag. Find a provider that is willing to openly and honestly discuss your security concerns and put your fears to rest.
Guard Against Human Error
We’ve all seen it before—in the midst of a zombie outbreak, even the most heavily fortified fortress can fall due to one person’s error. Have you taken every effort to ensure that your staff, your most valuable line of defense against data breaches, are well-versed in what they can do to mitigate disaster? Maybe not: a recent PwC study showed that 45% of law firms in the UK had suffered a data security incident over the past year, with 95% of those reporting incidents caused by staff. In fact, 5% of firms reported dealing with staff-related data security incidents on a weekly basis. If you’re using cloud solutions in your law firm, the single most important thing you can do is ensure your staff is aware of best practices for password management, mobile security, two-factor authentication, and BYOD.
Tales from the Encrypt
One of the best ways to protect your data from ghouls is to encrypt it—but chances are, you’re not encrypting your locally-stored files, meaning that anyone with access to your hard drive, even WITHOUT your password, which is incredibly problematic when you’re dealing with sensitive client data. With the cloud, encryption is taken care of for you; Clio, for example, uses 256 bit SSL encryption—the same level of security most banks use—to ensure your client data remains secure.
Portal to Another World
“Unless you use encryption, sending an email is basically the same thing as sending a postcard,” says Sam Glover. Regular, unencrypted email can even represent an ethics violation waiting to happen, particularly if you’re using a free provider such as Gmail. The solution? Using client portals such as Clio Connect adds an additional layer of protection when communicating sensitive information with clients; best of all, client portals come free of charge and baked-in to your existing cloud-based practice management solution, giving you an additional means of providing security assurance to your clients. The cloud in and of itself isn’t scary, and with a little research and education, your firm can rest easy knowing that your data is safe from prying claws. A very Happy Halloween from the entire team here at Clio! Ready to face your fears and see how the the cloud can make your practice more efficient? Click here to see how solo attorney Shanita Gaines uses Clio to be a better lawyer and a better mom, and sign up for a completely free trial.