Thumb drives and consumer file sharing services carry security risks that may not be immediately obvious.
In the first part of our series, we discussed the dangers of insecure document sharing. In Part 2, we explained why email is less than secure, even when you take measures to protect content. In this installment, we examine the pros and cons of the two other common document sharing methods: thumb drives, and consumer file-sharing services.
Are You All Thumbs?
Thumb drives are a convenient way to share documents or take work home or on the road. They’re compact, plug into any USB port and can be read by anyone (provided the documents were created in common software).
But the thumb drive’s benefits are also its drawbacks. Because they are small they are easily lost. And because they can be read by anyone, their data is far from secure. In fact, LexisNexis found that 68 percent of IT professionals said they had likely or very likely experienced a theft or loss of data stored on a USB drive.1
Consumer File Sharing is for Consumers
Online file sharing services have become the go-to document sharing method for many consumers. They are especially useful for sharing documents too large to attach to an email. Once set up, they are easy to use and can even be integrated with your computer’s folder structure.
On the other hand, consumer file sharing services were never designed to protect your data. They don’t come with the security measures lawyers should be seeking for confidential documents. Even worse, because sharing is so easy, one mistaken keystroke could share every folder on your computer.
Why are these services a particular problem for law firms? In the LexisNexis survey, over half of respondents said they had put confidential information on free consumer file-sharing sites. And in many cases, the firm was not aware this was happening. Aside from security issues, what if the lawyer using these services leaves the firm? How easy will it be to locate the documents?
How to Share Documents Securely
In Part 1, Part 2, and this post, we covered the risks of insecure document sharing and the drawbacks of the most common methods used. In the next and final part in this series, we’ll describe the solution recommended by industry experts to ensure your documents are shared securely. Stay tuned.
About Michael Sauber
Michael Sauber leads the marketing program for Korbitec, producer of Automated Civil Litigation Software (ACL). He has worked with document production technologies and professional services for over 30 years and is a frequent blogger on these topics.
1 Christopher T. Anderson and Dan Barahona. When “secure enough” isn’t enough: A Law Firm Guide to Protecting the Confidentiality of Shared Client Files. LexisNexis. January 8, 2018.