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89% US law firms share sensitive data via email, reveals LexisNexis survey

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89% US law firms share sensitive data via email, reveals LexisNexis survey

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A recent survey by LexisNexis reveals that a large proportion of U.S. law firms are not adequately protecting confidential data when they’re sharing files.

The survey aimed to understand the uses and perceptions of file sharing tools by attorneys and legal professionals working in U.S.-based law firms. It revealed that in spite of heightened concerns about security when it comes to sharing sensitive information online, law firms are not taking enough action to protect their or their clients’ data.

Although more than 70% of law firms surveyed are aware of the importance of secure file sharing, understanding the risks to their firm that is associated with compromising confidential data. But in spite of this, a worrying 89% of firms reported that their main way to share confidential information is via unencrypted email.

The most common method of privacy-protecting documents is via a confidentiality statement on the bottom of emails, which a reported 77% of firms use as their primary security measure. Christopher Anderson, a senior product manager at LexisNexis, explains that a statement of confidentiality is a weak measure of data protection, stating that “it might protect the law firm but affords very little protection for the client.”

This is a major concern for law firms, for whom data security and confidentiality is paramount. Email is an inherently insecure method of sharing data, as it can be easily intercepted, sent to the wrong person, or forwarded on by the recipient. Anderson goes on to explain that “law firms are caught in a bit of a bind because their clients demand a simple way to collaborate, but the risks, as this survey found, are exceptionally high.”

The answer to the security qualms of law firms is to move to the cloud. Cloud-based secure file sharing platforms enable the secure transfer of documents and information without the risks associated with email. Access is granted on a permission-only basis with each user requiring a login. Correctly accredited software-as-a-service providers will offer enterprise-grade security features that will ensure the protection of all data within the system.

Earlier this year, the UK’s Law Society published a practice note on cloud computing for law firms which provides useful guidance that can also be applied to non-UK firms. The note provides guidance on what to look for when selecting a cloud provider and highlights the benefits and considerations when it comes to the cloud (you can read our full review of the practice note here).


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