Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cloud Computing: Is It Safe To Float Your Practice Data Skyward?

Thanks to Dropbox and other ridiculously convenient cloud server-based storage alternatives out there, many practices are sharing client files, financial information and potentially dangerous information more than ever.  The reason is simple, its easy, mobile, productive and a lot cheaper than storing information on servers you have to pay for and constantly upgrade and protect from hackers.

At its most basic cloud computing allows users to access software and data over the Internet via a third-party server.  This allows the firms to establish a complete network in its office physically setting up the network, maintaining it, protecting it and the added value of making it accessible at home, at the office or on the road, anywhere.

But what are the ethical considerations to "putting it all out there"? Here are some things to consider if you want to embrace cloud computing.  Security is of paramount concern.  Data needs to by encrypted.  Most third party cloud computing servers provide encryption through authentication, secure transfer and true encryption. Make sure you vendor provides all three.  Also, ask vendors how they would handle a law enforcement agency request to decrypt firm data. At the end of the day, however, lawyers are responsible for any breach of client information.

Reliability is also a major consideration. Service outages can derail business, cases and trials.  It is imperative your provider shares information on scheduled regular maintenance issues, and a downtime percentage report so you know what to expect.

Ethically, attorneys must perform their due diligence before choosing a cloud computing vendor.  Examine a company for security and reliability.  Choose wisely as ultimately all datat leaks or failures will be the attorney's responsibility.

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