Do Lawyers Have Their Heads In the Clouds?


Sometimes, as a heavy duty user of cloud tools and a vocal advocate of same, I take for granted that others have the same awareness of and comfort level with them as I do. Not necessarily so, it appears. Less than a year ago, Citrix published a study that revealed that most people were a bit confused about the topic. Their blog post reporting on the study posted a few somewhat humorous highlights, such as:

  • 95% of those who think they’re not using the cloud, actually are
  • 3 in 5 (59%) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud
  • 40% believe accessing work information at home in their “birthday suit” would be an advantage
  • More than 1/3 agree that the cloud allows them to share information with people they’d rather not be interacting with in person
  • After being provided with the definition of the cloud, 68% recognized its economic benefits
  • 14% have pretended to know what the cloud is during a job interview

So, how do lawyers measure up against the more general population of cloudless masses? The ABA conducts a Legal Tech survey every year, the actual results of which I admittedly don’t read because the multi-volume set is a bit pricier than I would like to fork over. So I tend to depend on the reviews and reports by those more in the legal tech know than I, such as bloggers Bob Ambrogi and Nikki Black.  I encourage you to hit the links to get more details on the results of the latest survey. But I can summarize for you that attorneys’ use of the cloud has grown significantly over the past year, with the  larger percentage of respondents assigning the greatest importance to time and billing and case management applications. Interestingly, though, the top four most used applications by lawyers are not legal-specific apps but are consumer apps – Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud and Evernote, in that order.  As it appears, lawyers are ahead of the curve on cloud awareness and adoption. Yay, us.

But maybe you need a bit more information and guidance on the cloud and what it means to you as a lawyer. Well, I have the goods for you. Or, rather, MyCase – a cloud-based case management software company – has them, in the form of a nice slideshow. Check it out and be informed!


Search & Send: It's What We Do

In case you were wondering just what exactly adult Americans spend their time doing online, you can rest easy now. Just as in 2002, we almost universally spend some of our time online sending emails and searching for stuff. Pew Internet Research conducted its annual survey on Internet usage and has just issued its report based on its findings. The results were culled from data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, across a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older. The numbers have remained fairly consistent with respect to these activities over the years: this most recent survey shows that 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, with 59% doing so on a typical day, and 92% use email, with 61% using it on a typical day. The overall number of users of both email and search engines has also grown: in January 2002, 52% of all Americans used search engines and in May, 2011 72% of all Americans used search engines. In January 2002, 55% of all Americans used email and in May, 2011, 70% of all Americans used email. And these numbers are fairly uniform across the generations. The report further breaks down results by gender, race, education, and household income. Three other uses were measured, with getting news and buying products holding steady over the 2002 to 2011 time frame. Using social networking sites didn’t register in 2002, but from 2004 to 2011, usage jumped dramatically from 11% to 65%.

Interesting results, no doubt. It is interesting to me that social sites have not put a bigger dent in both email and search as means for communicating and finding relevant information. I anticipate that social net use will eventually have that effect as communication tools and relevance-based news tools within the sites improve. Guess we will have to wait and see.

Cavalier Attitudes About Mobile Phone Security

We are all going mobile. And, generally speaking, that isn’t such a bad thing. To have a tool the approximate size of a deck of cards with you at all times that can manage your business and personal affairs over the “air” is a compelling sell indeed. However, along with the obvious benefits, there are certainly drawbacks, with security or lack thereof being not the least among them. In many respects, the lack of security does stand to some reason. What is far more troubling, however, is the general lack of awareness among mobile phone users regarding the risks associated with such “always on” connectedness.

BeSpacific blog highlighted a March 11, 2011 report by the Ponemon Institute, a group focused on security issues, on the findings from a survey of 734 U.S. mobile phone consumers over the age of 18. Ponemon was trying to get at two pieces of information: are consumers aware of the risks; and, do consumers care about the risks? The results, culled from their answers, are a tad shocking.

Ponemon reports that the key finding from their research is that users are unaware of the type and extent of security risks associated with mobile phone use and are not terribly concerned about them.  Users are far more concerned with security on their laptop or desktop computers than they are with respect to their mobile phones. They are also far more concerned that a marketer will try to contact them over their phone then they are about weak links in the security chain. A sizeable percentage store sensitive data on their phones, but over 50% of users have not enabled the basic security of a keypad lock or password protection. And a 57% majority report that security is not an important feature on their phone at all. Nearly half of consumers are unconcerned about transferring a device to another person without properly wiping the phone’s data. Most are unaware of being “tracked” while using their phones or the lessened security that accompanies jailbreaking a device. Less than half are concerned about insecure wi-fi to phone connections. Only about half are aware of and less than half are concerned about “cross-over” – security of business information jeopardized by personal use of a device.  And, it appears, a large percentage of smartphone use is mixed business and personal, with employers paying some or all of the bill.

Now, I am sure that Studio readers are well aware of the risks associated with mobile smartphone use and have implemented security measures to prevent against harm. But, as a public service, I list below the security scenarios addressed in the report. Maybe there is one you overlooked, who knows? But, knowledge being power and all, this is one arena in which ignorance is definitely not bliss.

1.   location data embedded onto image files can result in tracking of the smartphone user

2.   Smartphone apps can transmit confidential payment information (i.e. credit card details)

3.   Smartphones can be infected by specialized malware called “dialerware” that enables criminals to make use of premium services or numbers resulting in unexpected monthly charges.

4.   Smartphone apps may contain spyware that allows criminals to access the private information contained on a smartphone

5.   Financial apps for smartphones can be infected with specialized malware designed to steal credit card numbers and online banking credentials.

6.   If a social network app is downloaded on a smartphone, failing to log off properly could allow an imposter to post malicious details or change personal settings without the user’s knowledge.

7.   A smartphone can be disposed of transferred to another user without properly removing sensitive data, allowing an intruder to access private data on the device.

8.   In many cases, people use their smartphone for both business and personal usage, thus putting confidential business information at risk (a/k/a cross-over risk).

9.   A smartphone can connect to the Internet through a local WIFI network that is insecure. This may result in a virus attack to the smartphone.

10.   Smartphones contain basic security protections that can be disabled by jailbreaking, thus, making the smartphone more vulnerable to spyware or malware attacks.

11.   Smartphone users can be targeted by marketers based on how the phone is used for purchases, Internet browsing and location. As a result, the user may receive unwanted marketing ads and promotions on their smartphone.

Current State of Social Media Adoption in Law Firms

Hot of the presses! Elaine Billingslea Dockens pens the results of a survey of law librarians regarding the use / adoption of social media in law firms. The results are found here, at Interestingly, the survey submitted to the schools, firms and agencies was called “Computer Use in Law Firms”, which appears far broader than the topic of social media use. The survey itself posed questions about blocking or controls on use and how such services are employed. 

The survey suffers a bit from lack of responses (only 56, including law schools, county/state agencies and law firms). Nonetheless, it is still interesting to see how management at these legal offices / institutions view social media and the benefits of control.

Hat tip to  beSpacific.