Lawyers and legal firms must secure confidential data in every manner possible. Not only is attorney-client privilege important, clients are also demanding higher levels of security when they are transferring or receiving data electronically. Secure file sharing is an important part of the legal process now that so much legal work is being done online.
Surprisingly, some law firms are behind the curve when it comes to securing files sent via electronic means. With more attorneys and their staff working remotely, ensuring that your legal files are secure should remain a high priority. Are you certain every electronic file you move is secure? The answer is probably, no, especially with email attachments.
For example, quite a few attorneys are now using video chat platforms on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Do you know if the popular video platforms such as Zoom and Skype are secure? The answer is worth exploring if you are conducting confidential information via Zoom or Skype.
A 2020 report on legal trends determined that 79 percent of attorneys use some form of cloud computing technology. Additionally, 62 percent allow clients to sign documents electronically. Regardless of the digital security tools employed by your law firm, the need to achieve secure file sharing should be a top priority.
What is the most secure way to transfer a file?
Hiring an armed courier service is probably the most secure way to transfer a file. Since hiring gun-toting guards isn’t realistic, the better question is the safest method to transfer legal files electronically and what safeguards are best?
Employing a multiple-step authentication process ensures maximum security of electronic file transfers. Also, whatever service you choose to transfer your legal files, confirm that they offer end-to-end encryption to protect you from professional hackers. End-to-end encryption also prohibits the host site from viewing your sensitive data and protecting you from security breaches.
Another key recommendation is to double-check permission settings. Make sure you disable the public sharing option so others cannot access files.
Finally, run routine audits on all files to review the individuals accessing them. When files are obsolete or no longer needed, you should make sure to remove them from your cloud system and all internal servers.
There are several file sharing options available to lawyers. All of them offer some level of security features. However, make sure the electronic file sharing options you choose offer the necessary security features to protect you and your client’s confidential information.
The 3 different types of file transfer options
File transfer solutions for confidential documents, and audio and video files consist of three primary methods: peer-to-peer (P2P), Cloud Services, and File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
- P2P transfers files through a distributed network of peers, as opposed to using a centralized file server. The peer-to-peer method is suitable for sharing files among smaller groups of individuals.
- Cloud Services use a central repository method. For example, one user uploads data, and two additional users download the file. Such systems implement a third-party system, so the risk of unauthorized use may be an issue unless advanced authentication systems are employed.
- FTP is the straight-forward method. The FTP protocol works on a command prompt window via a web browser or UI tool and is considered somewhat “old-school.”
4 safe and secure file sharing options for legal professionals and their recipients
Similar to competitive products, Box touts itself as a more business-focused cloud storage service. Box add-ons include Box Sync for your desktop, management tools, and a note-taking app. You can also record audio or video directly within your Box account with one click, meaning it does not have to also be on your phone saving you storage.
They also offer online syncing and storage and can integrate with thousands of different apps, which lets you customize your experience to work within your workflow.
Box is a great choice for the legal industry, as well as the general business world, because they have maintained HIPAA and CJIS compliance since their inception in 2010.
2. Google Drive
Google is a household name. The chances are high you are familiar with Google Drive, the cloud-based storage and synchronization service that allows you to access files from multiple devices.
A huge benefit of using Google Drive is that it easily integrates with other Google tools such as Contacts, Gmail, and Calendar. Consider Google Drive part of the G Suite productivity apps.
Security experts maintain that Google Drive is safe for attorneys if used correctly. Hackers love attempting to access Google Drive, so lawyers and law firms must check the privacy settings.
Two-factor authentication is a must for that extra layer of security. Also, make sure third-party options are disabled.
Microsoft’s file-sharing program is called SharePoint. Lawyers and their staff use SharePoint to share files and interface security with clients. SharePoint security features grant access only to key employees working on specific cases.
Customization of individual files is a security feature. Not all team members require access to the same information. SharePoint is beneficial when such access needs to be restricted.
A prominent SharePoint feature is that it allows firms to build custom internal websites. The program also integrates with other Microsoft features like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
4. One Drive
Microsoft’s OneDrive, like Google Drive, is part of Office 365. OneDrive touts easy-to-use features as a subscription or stand-alone service. Built into Windows, OneDrive is an easy method for basic storage needs.
However, OneDrive lacks some key features that most law firms deem essential such as email management, tagging, and document profiling.
Is Dropbox Safe for Lawyers?
Dropbox remains one of the most popular and widely used file-sharing options for lawyers. Security specialists recommend not using the free version, instead opting for the business version since it provides excellent flexibility and contains additional security features.
Dropbox’s paid versions offer password flexibility, including the option to remotely disconnect individuals no longer working on the case or with the firm. Multiple security features work in tandem to keep critical legal files safe. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption, along with two-factor authentication, works in tandem with permission-based access.
Attorneys and law firms that use Dropbox should closely read the company’s terms of service, including a mandatory binding arbitration clause. The company’s terms of service also ban class action lawsuits against Dropbox.
The paid version of Dropbox provides 3 TB (terabytes) of storage for a one user account. However, the company requires three or more users for advanced plans.
Overall, Dropbox is user-friendly and easy to use. However, the company’s document security features are not tailored for law firms, so exploring other options is highly advised.
Transcription Outsourcing uses a secure file sharing program
At Transcription Outsourcing, we maintain strict security protocols that include compliance with both HIPAA and CJIS requirements. Equally as important, everyone who works with or for us must undergo a criminal background check and be U.S. citizens working in the U.S.
Other transcription services routinely use multiple, non-U.S.-based transcriptionists unfamiliar with complex legal terms and the U.S. court system.
Protecting client data using the best security measures
Criminal Justice Information Services, also known as CJIS was created by the FBI to be their security standard guidelines. CJIS mandates that personnel with access to law enforcement records utilize data security and encryption systems that meet their strict requirements as well as being U.S. citizens working on U.S. soil.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes a standard to protect the data of all medical patients. Any practitioner, health care provider, or anyone else with access to PHI (Protected Health Information) must adhere to this protocol.
Make sure that the online secure file sharing for your attorney or firm requires both HIPAA and CJIS in their operations if you want to cover all your bases. That’s one reason why Transcription Outsourcing utilizes Box.com to host our data, because they adhere to both CJIS and HIPAA security and privacy requirements.
If you are in need of secure legal transcription services call our Denver, CO headquarters at (720) 287-3710 or complete our contact form by clicking button in the upper right of your screen.