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As Dropbox users found out earlier this year, “the cloud” is susceptible to data breaches, hacks, and invasions of privacy, when their confidential files like tax returns, bank records, mortgage applications, and business plans were potentially exposed to unauthorized people. Though remediation actions were taken quickly, it’s not quite the ideal scenario a business dreams of when seeking storage efficiency, convenience, and cost savings from a cloud vendor.
For the legal industry in particular, the public cloud can be high risk / high reward and enough of an issue for various jurisdictions (affecting over half the nation’s lawyers) to prompt ethics rules on the use of the cloud for storing and handling client data. So what does this mean when evaluating service providers?
Rethinking Traditional Public Cloud Services
When a service provider makes storage available to the general public over the internet, information is stored on shared servers and files are rarely encrypted. Or, service providers maintain the encryption keys themselves that still leaves client data vulnerable.
An increasingly more popular alternative is private cloud, which steps up by delivering the protection, access, and sharing benefits users know and love, but through hardware a business specifically controls. With private cloud, data is fortressed safely behind an organization’s firewall in an environment where only specified users can operate…definitely a win-win for convenience and the strictest standards for a client’s data security.
Evaluating an Ethical Private Cloud
While the private cloud platform offers greater security, some devices provide additional features that enhance practice management and data protection. Private clouds provide the convenience delivered by public cloud services without the risk and challenges, so check for these features during a vendor evaluation process:
– Shared and sent files should always be encrypted during transmission
– Allows easy remote file access from other computers, tablets, and smartphones (either via desktop software or an app)
– Ability to share files and private folders with coworkers and clients not using a private cloud device
– Keeps client files confidential while following rules on protecting client information