The Unexpected Cost of Free Cloud Document Management Services
As many law firms are discovering, the cloud can be an amazing asset for their businesses. It offers scalability, flexibility and mobility, and often with a lower price tag and more convenience than traditional, in-house hardware and software.
Yet as tempting as iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox or other sites may be, lawyers need to do their research first before uploading their important, confidential or privileged information to these non-legal-specific types of free or low-cost services.
Many of these sites are geared towards consumers – not law firms – and could have notable limitations when it comes to important security provisions. Users may even surrender their ownership rights to information in that particular cloud.
While free or cheap cloud providers may seem like a bargain in the short term, they can be very costly in the long run if data is left vulnerable or attorneys have unwittingly surrendered their ownership rights to their own information.
This security infographic illustrates the costs and consequences associated with a cybersecurity breach. When attorneys work with any medical information or records, the firm will be responsible for fines up to $250,000 as a penalty for failing to comply with strict HIPAA security standards.
Law firms would be better off paying a little more for legal-specific cloud providers to get the security and peace of mind they need.
Key Questions to Ask When Vetting Cloud Services
When looking at different cloud providers, there are several things to consider.
- Do they have thorough security protocols?
While free and low-cost services certainly try to keep data secure, it may be difficult for attorneys, or any user, to find out exactly what protocols, firewalls and operating systems are in place to protect information.
It may also be difficult for users to find out which employees have physical and virtual access to their data and what background checks have been performed on those employees.
- Do they have a legal-specific software and infrastructure?
While many of these cloud services are easy to use, they may not integrate well with the other tools and software the firm uses. This means that data may be difficult to access and merge with the other technology.
- Do they have a legal software certified and vetted staff?
When lawyers using free cloud storage have questions, they may not know who to contact for information. It may also be difficult to determine the level of training and expertise of those they do speak with. If an attorney has trouble getting data in the cloud, finding someone to help could be a serious issue. There may also be little recourse if the data cannot be recovered.
Is your law firm considering the cloud? For more information about data storage when using a cloud provider check out this article by our CEO.