ABA legal tech report sees drop in attorneys pursuing cloud cybersecurity measures

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Concerns about how attorneys are addressing cybersecurity in their use of cloud services was detailed in a recent legal technology report from the American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center.

Released Oct. 23, the TECHREPORT 2019 combines data from the annual Legal Technology Survey Report with expert analysis, observations and predictions from legal technology leaders, the ABA said in a statement.

The report, described as a comprehensive publication, explores how attorney are using technology in their practices. Information collected in the report was distributed into nine articles focusing on technology topics including cloud computing, cybersecurity, and websites and marketing, among others. The other six articles will be released every Wednesday through Dec. 18.

Data compiled in the cloud computing article found that the majority of lawyers and firms are slowly incorporating cloud services into their IT equations. According to the survey, cloud usage bumped up slightly to 58% in 2019 from 55% in 2018. Those not using cloud services dropped slightly from 33% to 31%.  Solo and small firms continued to lead the way in cloud use at 60%.

The main concern, however, is the worsening cybersecurity approaches taken by attorneys who do use the cloud, the survey found. Of attorneys who use the cloud and contend that confidentiality, security, data control and ownership, longevity, and ethics matter a great deal to their practice, no more than 35% were found to have taken any standard cautionary cybersecurity measures listed in the survey’s question on the topic. Only 41% of respondents reported that the adoption of cloud computing resulted in changes to internal technology or security policies.

Just 27% of cloud-using attorneys made local data backups, down from 36% in 2018. Likewise, 27% reviewed Terms of Service, down from 34%, and only 25% reviewed ethical decisions on cloud computing, also down from 34%.

Additionally, 17% of cloud-using lawyers sought advice from their peers, down from 30% in 2018, and 23% evaluated vendor company history, despite 94% of attorneys stating the importance of vendor reputation in selecting vendors.

However, 30% of survey respondents indicated cloud services provide the benefit of giving greater security than they can provide on their own.

“The continuing lack of actual attention to confidentiality, security, and due diligence issues, however, remains a serious and disturbing concern, especially with the growth in mobile apps running on cloud services,” the 2019 cloud computing article concluded.  “The results on security procedures will continue to fuel client concerns about whether their outside law firms are making adequate efforts on cybersecurity, and the numbers indicate that they should be worried.”

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