April 9, 2010

What's that up in the Cloud Part 2? Do you have a Policy?

by Cary J. Calderone, Esquire

In the first article on the subject I presented an overview of some of the risks with moving your company data and/or applications to the Cloud (link to Part 1). This article is about moving to the Cloud whether you want to or not. Let me explain. Do you think you are in control of your companies' data? Maybe, or maybe not! Companies like Dropbox, Mozy and many others are offering free cloud storage to users. And, we are talking about free gigabytes of storage. Enough to hold far too much of your important, privileged and/or proprietary company information. These new product offerings are simple to use, and extremely easy to setup in a matter of a minute or two. This means that if you do not have a policy on storing your work product off site, like on USB flash drives or tapes, then you had better at least get one for Cloud storage. USB ports can be disabled. Stopping user access to all the Cloud storage sites would be very challenging. This means all a user has to do is download a small application, setup a folder on their desktop computer, and from that point forward, anything they place in that folder gets copied to the cloud. As a warning to all my potential clients, you do not want your first knowledge of this new technology coming after you have been served with a Request for Production in a lawsuit.
Now, personally I think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or, at least the greatest thing since free personal email accounts. I have setup test accounts with both Mozy and Dropbox. Having the latest copy of my draft blog post available on my netbook, my laptop, or my desktop machine, is a great time saver and backup mechanism. In the past, and even though I seldom need to share my information with another person, I have wasted countless hours and email storage space moving my data from one of my computers to another of my computers via USB or email. I no longer have to do this. Additionally, if I am ever away from one of my computers, I have the option of getting to my data by using any computer that has internet access. In conclusion, two quick words of advise: 1) If your company policies do not cover Cloud storage, they should. 2) If you are a lawyer making a discovery request or taking a deposition, you should know how to ask about this stuff.