Two Concerns Over Cloud-Based Software for Lawyers - Technologist
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Two Concerns Over Cloud-Based Software for Lawyers

Cloud computing carries a lot of promise. With the move of software from locally-installed to remotely-stored, lawyers have redundant copies of data, can access files anywhere and on nearly any modern device, and can increase productivity.

It’s not all roses, however. Here are a couple of issues we’ve run across lately:

Security

Just this past weekend, Evernote was hacked. In the past month, tech superpowers Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft were hacked. Every week, it seems, another company’s secure servers fall prey to hackers, both foreign and domestic. While the targets are usually large companies — and most hacks are for sport or Internet notoriety — how long will it be before hackers realize the wealth of information, (i.e. social security numbers, addresses, and even financial records) that are all stored in lawyers’ computers?

No cloud-based service is ever going to be as secure as a local network of computers running non-cloud software; even with the extra incentive for cloud providers to use state-of-the-art methods to secure their data. After all, if you are a hacker, what is more attractive: a single law office’s computers or a server storing thousands of firms’ data? Most hackers want to chase the whale, not the small fish.

Stability

Call it the age of perpetual beta. Ever since Google began releasing beta products to the public — and updating on a frequent and continual schedule to fix the remaining bugs and add features — other companies have followed suit. In the old days of locally-installed software, a product would need to be near-perfect before shipping. Now, a new product might arrive buggy, unstable, and missing features with the expectation of “we’ll patch it later.”

This has benefits and drawbacks. As Ron Collins of Amicus Attorney mentioned in our interview, this allows features to be added during one of those frequent updates. Consumers don’t have to wait for the next annual release and pay for the resulting upgrade. It also means your new app hits a bug and stops working when you need it most, such as when you try to look up client data in court. Of course, once the software matures, glitches are far less likely. When, for example, was the last time Gmail stopped working?

Is it Worth the Hassle?

If you’ve been reading our recent posts, you know where we stand: Definitely worth the hassle. The downtime of the occasional glitch is offset by greater productivity and efficiency. If your computer crashes, you can switch devices and resume working. You also need to remember that most of this software is new; especially the lawyer-targeted platforms. As they mature, they will become more reliable.

As for nagging security doubts, keep in mind the typical hacking scenario: hacker gets in, copies usernames and (usually encrypted) passwords, and is detected. The company resets the passwords and secures the data before the hacker breaks the encryption on the passwords or access any sensitive data.

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