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LEGAL IT BLOG

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Cloud security basics for law firms and barrister's chambers
BY Matt Torrens

The legal system, traditionally seen as a sector that is slow to adapt to change, has embraced technology and the cloud, particularly in the last two years. You might be surprised to find out, however, just how vulnerable the public cloud is to data breaches, hackers, and cybercriminal attacks.

 

In this article, we look at the five fundamental cloud security basics you should be following, then look at what a private cloud server is and why more legal firms have been choosing this solution over the public cloud.

 

CLOUD SECURITY BASICS

 

 

1.   Don’t store information you can’t afford to be stolen or lost in the cloud

 

On the public cloud, your information is stored along with every other user’s on a rack of servers at a remote location. Public cloud servers come under attack on a daily basis so therefore it’s wise not to store personally sensitive information like clients’ debit or credit cards, medical records, financial details, passwords, and so on.

 

Some of the data you store for your clients may be patented or copyrighted IP. Were this data to be accessed by an unauthorised user (from within or outside your firm) or if it was misallocated onto another user’s storage making it inaccessible to you and your colleagues, this would be very damaging for a legal firm and its reputation among commercial clients.

 

2.   Take passwords seriously

 

According to password manager Keeper, 10% of all passwords used belong on their annual list of the 25 most common (and guessable) passwords. That means that, if your computer, network, or public cloud facility is protected by one of those 25 passwords, there’s a 10% chance that a hacker or bad actor could successfully bypass the security on your accounts within two dozen guesses.

 

Ideally, you and your colleagues should have different passwords for each system, program, app, or file you access. You should change them frequently and you should never write them down or share it with anyone. You may want to provide further security by programing your systems to ask an additional question to make sure that the person trying to access a system is in fact the unauthorised user.

 

3.   Test your cloud provider’s security

 

Certified ethical hackers are employed by companies and governments are on a freelance basis to test the security of their systems, whether those systems are on-site or in the cloud.

 

To find one, contact the EC Council UK.

 

4.   Make sure your cloud service uses encryption

 

Encryption is a way of turning information into a code which can only be turned back into the original information by another user with the correct encryption “key”. You upload a file to the cloud and, at the same time, create a password to access it – without the password, no one will be able to decipher its contents.

 

Encryption provides a second layer of security to your data just in case your public cloud space is hacked or if a member of staff tries to access it without the correct authorisation.

 

There are plenty of tools you can download from the internet which applies encryption and assigns passwords to your files. Alternatively, speak to a Sprout IT representative for more information on a company-wide solution for your firm.

 

5.   Back up your data locally

 

Whether your firm is already using the public cloud or not, it’s always been of critical importance for information-heavy organisations to regularly back up their data – ideally multiple back-ups. The interruption to your firm by not having its most current data available to it could be significant if the data has been corrupted or lost.

 

You can back them up using cloud storage or manually within your office by using an external storage drive. The best approach to take is to have many different back-ups all updated at the same time to provide extra comfort and to give you the ability to download original data to your system as quickly as possible in the event of disruption.

 

What is a private cloud and is it a better choice for legal firms?

 

As we mentioned earlier, on the public cloud, your information is stored on the same servers as the information belonging to hundreds or thousands of other companies. Given the relative lack of data “privacy” based upon on where and how it is stored, more legal firms are beginning to use “private clouds”.

 

A private cloud is a part of the public cloud that belong to you. You have just as much control over it as your internal IT system – the only difference is that it’s not based within your office. You control access to it, it’s protected by your firewall, and responsibility for the maintenance of your private cloud belongs to your IT firm.

 

Private clouds can be designed and configured much more to fit to your business’s exact needs and its processes. It also offers a virtual desktop experience for users. You own the equipment on which your private cloud is based and it’s your IT team which sets firewalls and other data security measures to your own specifications.

 

Contact Sprout IT

 

Sprout IT works with solicitors’ practices and barristers’ chambers across London and the South East. To speak with one of our team about adopting the private cloud for your firm, please call us on 020 7036 8530 or contact us here.

 

To learn more about our private cloud security services please check out our Cloud Solution page. 

 

 

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