Cloud computing technology has been making serious headway in the past few years. Most of those endeavors have been on the “back end,” allowing businesses to create and implement scalable solutions that rely on third-party, Internet-based providers. The legal field, however, has sometimes been resistant to these technologies. A variety of concerns – primarily those involving security – have kept many cloud solutions at bay.
With the advent of Apple’s iCloud, however, the legal field may not be able to hold out much longer. While iCloud isn’t necessarily revolutionary in what it does, it comes at an auspicious time. Consumer cloud computing solutions have been gaining rapid acceptance, as evidenced by the rapid growth of DropBox. iCloud has the potential to bring cloud computing to the masses.
Personal use drives business use
Over and over again in the history of technology, we’ve seen as personal use of technology tends to drive business use. The situation with iCloud is likely to be similar. Once people (including those in the legal field) get used to accessing all of their personal data from many locations with many different devices, they’ll want to be able to do so with their work data, as well.
Security concerns and iCloud
This, then, is raising concerns about security for many in the field. There are at least three major security questions iCloud brings to the fore, including:
- How do cloud solutions impact confidentiality? If a third party – in the case of iCloud, this would be Apple – is hosting your client files, can the data be considered secure and confidential? Will this kind of storage meet legal challenges to confidentiality?
- How can timestamped data be captured in the cloud? For example, when you’re talking about an iCloud file, you can see the file changed from one moment to the next. How will businesses capture specific time-related data? This is particularly relevant for issues like e-discovery.
- How does iCloud security compare to existing security? The fact of the matter is that many businesses – even those involved in legal issues – have relatively poor security. That might be at the desktop level, the network level, or both. Does iCloud and related technologies actually offer a more secure environment than the status quo?
How the legal field fits in
Many in the legal field may be resistant to this emerging technology. This would be a mistake, as there’s plenty of potential for those in legal to make a positive impact on the cloud computing trend. Specifically, legal professionals can:
- Become educated about security technologies. By gaining an understanding of how things like encryption function in the iCloud environment, you can better analyze a given solution.
- Challenge cloud solutions providers to create stronger security measures. Legal firms can be a driving force behind improved security from cloud providers.
- Identify ways that cloud solutions can meet legal requirements. In addition, legal firms can help to identify how regulatory requirements can be met, and how the cloud can be made to be more friendly to e-discovery and related processes.
Whether or not iCloud gains widespread use, one thing is certain: those in the legal field can’t afford to ignore cloud technology. It’s time to get out at the forefront, and make sure the tech meets all of the important legal requirements that you and your clients need to meet.
About the Author: Eric Greenwood is an information and online storage technology expert whose advice is sought after by friends and strangers alike – Read more of his work on his blog, Online Storage!