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LEGAL CENTS: New ways to feel safe in the cloud

Jane Pribek is a former family law attorney and Wisconsin Law Journal’s editor-at-large. She can be reached at [email protected]

I’ve been a longtime Dropbox devotee for sharing large files and collaborating on projects. It’s free and easy to use.

I’m not alone. The American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey Report found that it is the most popular cloud-storage platform for lawyers.

There are, however, some in the legal community who refuse to try Dropbox and other cloud services, citing data security risks that could lead to ethics-rules violations or malpractice claims.

On one hand, Dropbox pretty famously was hacked about a year ago. And this year a pair of developers cracked Dropbox’s security and then published a paper about it.

On the other hand, there are 14 jurisdictions — Wisconsin is not one of them — with on-point ethics opinions that permit lawyers to use cloud-computing with a “reasonable care” standard.

But even if you don’t use Dropbox or one of its competitors, chances are your co-workers or clients do. So whether you embrace Dropbox or use it grudgingly, you ought to be emphasizing the security of your clients’ confidential data.

Sookasa is a cheap, simple means to accomplish that end. It’s an add-on for Windows and Mac that creates a locally-encrypted folder. That means Sookasa’s servers don’t store your data or encryption keys. Rather, you give permission to others to access your files within Dropbox. Afterward, you can revoke their access.

Both Dropbox and Sookasa can run on tablets and smartphones.

Viivo is another easy, inexpensive way to use Dropbox securely. It took me less than five minutes to download and install. Once you’ve installed the program and go to save a file, Viivo will appear as an option under your favorites. Save files there for Viivo to encrypt. Then login to Dropbox and click on the Viivo-encrypted folder, click on the file you want to share and type in the email addresses of the people with whom you’re collaborating.

They then will receive an email offering them access.

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Viivo also has apps for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.

In comparing the two, the free version of Viivo only works with Dropbox and is unavailable for commercial use. The next level up, for business, is Viivo Pro, which costs $4.99 a month under a year’s subscription. It syncs with Dropbox, as well as Microsoft SkyDrive, Box and Google Drive.

Sookasa is just for Dropbox, although the website states that in the next few months it plans to expand into Box, iCloud and Google Drive. Like Viivo, Sookasa offers a free personal security plan. For $10 a month or $100 annually, you can get Sookasa’s business security plan, under which you can create teams, designating an administrator to add or move users, and monitor the group’s activities. The next level up is dubbed the compliance plan, perhaps because it purports to be HIPAA-compliant. That costs $15 a month or $150 a year. Sookasa’s paid versions offer free 30-day trials.

If you’re still harboring doubts about Dropbox or other cloud services, remember there are painless, additional steps you can take to secure your data.

For starters, go to the settings tab under your Dropbox account and enable “two-factor authentication.” In addition, for the Microsoft Office 2010 Suite and Adobe Acrobat files, you can password-protect files. And of course, you’re already using strong passwords, right?

Cloud-computing, for lawyers and everybody, appears to be here to stay. Luckily, as more providers such as Sookasa and Viivo hit the market, it keeps on getting easier to feel safe in the cloud.

Jane Pribek is a former family law attorney and regular Wisconsin Law Journal contributor. She can be reached at [email protected].


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