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Are Free Cloud Services A Risk To South Carolina’s Law Firms?


What Is An EULA?

An EULA is an End-User License Agreement or software license agreement between you (the purchaser) and the licensor (the software company) that defines the ways the software can be used and your rights to use it. Experts now recommend checking EULAs to ensure you’re not storing confidential information in a solution that’s not secure enough for the legal field.

Have You Reviewed EULAs For The Free Cloud-Based Storage Solutions You Use? 

Because some of the free storage solutions like DropBox, Google, and others aren’t amenable to your client confidentiality requirements, you shouldn’t use them. Unfortunately, some attorneys still do, and as a result, they’re putting their client data and their law firms at risk.

Why Is The EULA So Important?

As mentioned, you must ensure your end-user license agreement (EULA) for any software you use, (especially free software) is thoroughly checked to make sure confidential information isn’t being stored in the open. Dropbox has recently had some issues with this.

Cybersolutions recommends that our clients, especially those in the legal field, use cloud-based storage solutions that are paid for (like Microsoft Office 365 or paid versions of G-Suite Services) that state under their terms of service that any mining of data is prohibited.

Beware Of Free Dropbox For Lawyers 

Dropbox for Lawyers has free and paid accounts. Some have signed up for the free service because they get 2.5 gigabytes of space at no cost and an option to get more space if they refer a new account holder.  Plus, they can upload and even share files through the free account. This sounds like a good deal, but Dropbox is no longer recommended for those who store and use confidential documents such as attorneys.

Do Your Homework

When looking for a cloud-based solution for your document storage and collaboration needs, make sure that you do your research and consider how the available options will affect your clients’ confidentiality.  

While you might think the free version of Dropbox for Lawyers gives you a quick, no-cost solution to upload and store files, it could end up costing you in fines and legal fees when your clients and regulatory authorities learn that data was lost to cyber criminals.

What Should You Look For In A Cloud-Based Solution?

Other than a EULA that guarantees the security of your confidential data, look for a cloud-based solution especially designed for law firms.

  • Provides In-transit encryption, so your files remain encrypted while being uploaded to the Internet or downloaded to your computers.
  • Uses at least 256-bit AES encryption to secure your files.
  • Is HIPAA compliant if you work with doctors or healthcare organizations.
  • Integrates with Microsoft Office so you can save your documents directly to the Cloud.
  • Is compatible with the other systems you use.
  • Provides indexing and search capabilities where you can find names and content in every document, as well as emails.
  • Uses zero-knowledge encryption where only you have access to your encryption keys.
  • Has the ability to compare older documents to newer versions.
  • Allows your employees check-in and check-out of documents to ensure only those authorized can access documents, that you know when they do, and that they are working on the most updated versions.
  • Provides notifications when documents are updated or edited.
  • Has a system for document tagging and profiling.
  • Offers document organization and storage that can be arranged by matter.
  • Has easy-to-use email management and search options.
  • Comes with an interface that’s intuitive and easy for your staff to use.
  • Provides solid customer service.

Can You Use Any Of The Free Software Services?

You can use Google’s free services to write blog posts, create and update website information, and for operations where confidential data isn’t included. There are some great tools in the Google Suite, but using them for anything related to sensitive client data is not recommended.

Still Have Questions?

We urge our legal clients (actually all of our clients) who work with or store confidential data to always check the EULAs in the software they use to ensure sensitive data won’t be exposed.  If you aren’t sure and need help doing this, contact the team at Cybersolutions.

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