Security at the electronic frontier

June 23, 2016

As technology has evolved, managing documents remotely has become easier and popular. Any member of a team can access all their team’s documents instantly, whether they are seated across the other side of the office or 200 miles away.

In essence, thanks to the cloud and bring your own device (BYOD), a lawyer is no longer limited by the four walls of an office but able to have the tools to manage that work-life balance now desired, or indeed support a client who may be in a different time zone.

While the ability to manage documents has become easier, it’s nothing new. Now the real electronic frontier is all to do with collaboration and teamwork. After all, why should a document management system just hold documents? What about the life of a document? What about working on it, sharing it, discussing it? The latest document management and cloud solutions make it possible to easily share, annotate, edit, illustrate and print documents but that raises another issue.


As everyone’s looking at how to share files, involve multiple parties on the lifecycle of a legal document and wanting easy access to documents on multiple devices, especially phones or iPads that aren’t firm equipment, the question of security is constantly being raised. Documents might look great on the latest tablet device and it’s great to be able to look at documents on the move, but what does that mean when it comes to compliance with client confidentiality, regulation, geographical issues and so on?

Well, increased digitisation and mobility should not compromise the security of your data and documents – if the right technology is used. Smarter technology means data and documents can now be more secure than ever, especially when document management involves best-in-breed software and bespoke applications that prevent unauthorised access, limit device access to particular users and departments and clearly identify key users.


When buying document solutions, law firms need to work with resellers that look at each individual law firm and judge the solution based on individual needs. There’s not one solution that works across the board and when it comes to security key questions need to be asked about the set-up of the organisation, what the levels of disclosure are between different levels of staff and what the organisation’s working structure is like. The reseller then needs to work with the firm and be flexible to their needs. Do it right and it will work.

Interestingly, the use of cloud computing has helped to improve general data security. “The biggest data risk comes from lost or stolen laptops and USB drives,” the Solicitors Regulation Authority said in its report, Silver Linings: cloud computing, law firms and risk (November 2013). “Cloud-based systems remove the need for USB drives and mean that data need not be kept on individual laptops.”

USB drives can also be affected by Trojan Horse programs and viruses, the regulator added, and removing the need to transmit working files by email removes an insecure means of data transmission. Another advantage, the SRA adds, is that with data stored remotely in the cloud and with computers properly configured to require log-ins and passwords before connecting to the provider, information will not be leaked in the event of a burglary at the firm’s offices.

So, law firms can have the productivity enhancing, user-friendly, teamwork-boosting, easy access, go anywhere document management solutions that they want… and be safe, secure and compliant with it.