As many conveyancers start to leverage the cloud, an expert discusses concerns around keeping your data safe.
The number of businesses now moving to place client data in cloud servers is overwhelming, but many conveyancing and legal firms are having a hard time following their lead. People want to know that safeguards are in place before the shift can happen.
One 2015 report from technology research firm Telsyte found that Australian cloud spending is continuing to grow, and may reach $800 million by 2019. And a 2014 report from The Grattan Institute found privacy and security concerns are one of the top five reasons Australian SMEs aren’t adopting cloud technology.
Michael Bishop, Regional Counsel Asia-Pacific at data protection and information management company Commvault, discusses how businesses can navigate their concerns while still adopting state-of-the-art technology.
Be alert, not alarmed
Many businesses are tempted by the cloud, but they often have concerns around security, downtimes, and whether their data is truly safe in an off-site centre. For some, they feel as though their data, including their clients’ personal information, is better protected in their own walls.
Conveyancers should consider the broader cost savings they can achieve by putting their data in a cloud system, Bishop says.
“The main reason here is dependency and flexibility,” he says, pointing out that data servers usually charge on a per-use basis. This is often cheaper than when compared with the up-front cost of securing and managing your own infrastructure.
“It’s also about resilience. If a disaster hits your area, but your cloud data is replicated in three different locations, you’re protected.”
In particular, Bishop says cloud storage is often more reliable than any internal system a small business could manage.
“People might think data is less secure in the cloud. But I’d often say that cloud providers are more likely to have knowledge that exceeds the data security a small-sized law firm could have.”
Best practice in moving to the cloud
Many small conveyancing or law firms have internal systems that have been around for years, and transitioning from those legacy systems into a cloud-based system is a challenge.
Bishop says in order to survive this transition smoothly, businesses ought to ask the right questions when it comes to choosing the most suitable data centre.
“It comes down to doing your due diligence,” he says.
“You need to find the right provider, then you also need to determine what type of data is going to move into the cloud – which types of data you want to move, and which you don’t.
“Take it one step at a time, and very slowly. For me, I think it’s about looking at it analytically.”
It's important to consider where the data is stored, says Bishop. Any information backed up in Australia will be subject to domestic laws, while information in other countries will not.
“I think sometimes businesses feel data is more secure in a local data centre, but they don’t ask the right questions about whether the data is backed up in Australia or overseas, or how that data is transported.
“If you’re dealing with personal data, you need to know where it’s being held and what legal obligations you have.”
Take a measured approach
Bishop says businesses don’t have to move everything at once. Instead, he argues, business should conduct due diligence and determine which sets of data should move first. That could mean moving more anonymous data first, and then confidential data once the business has a system under control.
“I hear people concerned about attacks, but what I would say is that your data is more at risk outside the cloud than in it.”
Businesses handling personal data should rightfully be concerned about its use. Moving to the cloud can actually be one of the safest ways to protect it – as long as the process is managed competently, methodically, and with the utmost respect for your customers.