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Considerations before changing technology

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 20, 2015 Data security comments: Comments Off on Considerations before changing technology
Law firms need the right tools to streamline operations.

More technology is available to law firms than ever before. However, decision-makers need to conduct a thorough evaluation of their internal needs before selecting a new platform. Some law firms struggle to effectively manage changes, but many benefits can be acquired through new technology, such as better client relations, improved organization and increased efficiency. Here are some considerations before adopting a new case management platform:

Ask for input from all levels of the organization
It's important to treat end users as stakeholders in the decision-making process. This helps law firm employees to be more engaged in the transition to new technology. Asking for input helps firms put together a more complete picture of the technology needed for everyone to be more efficient. Depending on the unique needs of the firm, a highly user-friendly platform may be the best choice.

Understand everyone adapts at a difference pace
Technology has already caused significant changes in legal practices and given lawyers the ability to work from almost anywhere at any time. Law firms include attorneys from multiple generations, and while millennials may be comfortable with advanced systems, older employees may have a steeper learning curve. Younger lawyers want technology to make their jobs easier and give them more flexibility, such as the ability to telecommute. Requiring attorneys to only work from the office can be limiting, especially with cloud storage, mobile devices and laptops that make mobility simple. Leaders need to enable lawyers to have more flexibility and help older employees adapt to changes. 

What do law firms need in a technology provider?What do law firms need in a technology provider?

Understand data security
Data breaches are becoming a more significant problem across many industries, and law firms need to take steps to protect their data to avoid a breach of confidentiality with their clients. When moving to a cloud-based platform, law firms need to consider how they will secure their infrastructure, according to FindLaw. Many firms use public Internet, which increases the risks of security breaches. Although public networks have become more secure in the past few years, using the cloud in this environment can open a firm up for vulnerabilities. Law firms need to assess their current data security protection and determine if any upgrades are needed. 

Identify key areas that need improvement
Law firms may have multiple goals when they adopt new technology, but it's important to prioritize the top objectives. Case management software achieves multiple goals. Whether it's enabling document collaboration so lawyers can work outside of the office or streamlining workflow, INSZoom's platform helps firms meet these goals.

Partner with a vendor
Successful technology implementation often hinges on a law firm's relationship with its technology vendor. A vendor will be a partner for the long haul, so it's important to select the right one. Law firms need a platform that can integrate with their pre-existing internal systems so they don't face additional costs. INSZoom's case management software allows law firms to streamline workflow and improve collaboration without missing any important case deadlines, plus it offers support through the life of the relationship. 

date:  Apr 20, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Considerations before changing technology
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security Read More

The importance of strong passwords

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 14, 2015 Data security comments: Comments Off on The importance of strong passwords

Lawyers work with confidential and sensitive client information every day, which means they need to take precautions to keep this data safe. Many high-profile data breaches have occurred in the past few years, exposing millions of people to the risks of compromised data, including identity theft. Along with tightening a firm's online security, lawyers should create stronger passwords and encourage their clients to do the same.

It's often difficult to keep track of the growing number of accounts and passwords attorneys use every day. Many professionals try to create a shortcut by using the same password for everything, or even worse, setting passwords as simple words or numeral combinations such as "12345" or "password." A report from Verizon revealed 76 percent of security breaches  happened after hackers used stolen user credentials to access a company's system, which is easier when employees don't use strong passwords.

More accounts mean higher risks of data breaches
Sony Pictures Entertainment's December data breach was a high-profile example of the importance of stronger passwords. Hackers erased data from the organization's systems, released previously unavailable movies to the public and revealed employees' private information, salaries and other sensitive documents. Among the released information was a list of employees' passwords, which included weak safeguards such as "password" and "s0ny123," according to Mashable. Employees' computers contained home addresses, current salaries and even credit card numbers, which were exposed in the cyberattack. 

Imagine the information hackers could expose by accessing private legal files.

Cyberattacks in the legal industry
Law firms don't have the same obligation to report cyberattacks as consumer companies, but a preventable hack may be a breach of confidentiality. Attorneys need to ensure they utilize more complex passwords to mitigate this risk.

Firms may not think they are vulnerable, but many hacks occur simply because there is an opportunity, Lawyerist said. Cybercriminals run scans for weaknesses on any computer connected to the Internet and have many ways to access computers. Lawyerist reported an attorney lost $289,000 by clicking on an attachment in a scam email. The attachment contained a virus that allowed cybercriminals to view everything on the computer. The lawyer later accessed the firm's bank account from the same computer, giving the hackers an easy way to transfer the large sum to another account. Additionally, the firm's bank refused to cover the loss. 

Weak passwords open the door for significant risks.Weak passwords open the door for significant risks.

Although cybercriminals have multiple ways to infiltrate computers, low-tech methods of identity theft are still common. Lawyers are at a heightened risk for data or financial losses if a bank statement is swiped from the trash or a wallet or laptop is stolen. In particular, a stolen work laptop is a substantial risk. Not only does it have the firm's account information on it, but it also has clients' banking data if they pay online.

How to protect sensitive information
Passwords don't need to be 20 characters long to be effective. Twelve characters is typically long enough, as long as the words are unique. Lawyerist recommended avoiding real words that can be found in a dictionary. Additionally, attorneys shouldn't use the same password for multiple services, especially if it's something critical such as email and bank accounts. If a hacker can access one website on a computer, he or she can get on every site that uses the same password. It's important to store passwords in a secure location. Never leave them on sticky notes on a monitor. 

Two-factor authentication is another way to better secure sensitive client information. This process utilizes a known password and a code generated from an app and sent via text or email. Because it takes more than a password to access the account, hacking is difficult for cybercriminals to infiltrate. In addition, lawyers can encrypt files to make them harder to decode. 

Because INSZoom's advanced platform enables document sharing in the cloud between lawyers and their clients, it's crucial for all parties to take the proper precautions to keep data secure. Making stronger passwords costs nothing and takes little time, but not taking these steps exposes firms and clients to significant risks of identity theft and lawsuits. INSZoom allows lawyers to build better relationships with clients while keeping data secure. 

date:  Apr 14, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on The importance of strong passwords
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security Read More

Improve your disaster recovery plans

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 25, 2015 Data security, Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on Improve your disaster recovery plans
Be prepared for a disaster by reducing your reliance on paper and backing up your data regularly.

The chance of a natural disaster isn't a topic you want to dwell on every day. But, it's something you need to sit down and think about before it's too late.

"Failing to establish a response plan actively puts your entire business at risk."

As an immigration professional, your office houses thousands of important documents for you and your clients. As dramatic as it may seem, it only takes one catastrophe to destroy these documents. Failing to establish a response plan actively puts this information – and your entire business – at risk for failure.

Take these steps to build a disaster plan:

Analyze what you back up
So much of what immigration professionals do these days relies on digital forms and documents. However, many attorneys and human resources departments still use paper files as well. Both of these file types need to be backed up on a regular basis to ensure information is redundant and never lost.

You might be wondering how you back up paper. All significant documents should be scanned and saved to your cloud-based case management software. There should not be a single important document in your office that is the only copy.

Your information stored in the cloud should also be redundant. You should talk with your cloud provider to ensure your data is backed up to a different data center. Data stored in only one place is as susceptible to disaster as paper files in your office.

You should backup your data on a daily basisYou should back up your data on a daily basis

Determine how often you back up
Once you've figured out what is and is not backed up, you should determine the frequency with which you perform the procedure. Your system should be backed up daily. Incoming paper should be scanned the day it's received and any internal servers and hard drives should be scheduled to back up at the end of each work day.

Reduce paper use
After you analyze your current backup processes, you may realize you rely too heavily on paper, which must be scanned into your system to be protected. To make your life easier going forward, you should work to reduce the use of paper in your office and rely more on digital documents. Data stored in the cloud can easily be backed up on a daily basis, ensuring your backup is always up to date.

By using an immigration-specific CMS, you can dramatically decrease paper correspondence. For instance, client onboarding documentation can be digital and transmitted through email. Invoicing and payments can also be done online: Clients receive a bill through email and can go online to pay their bill with a credit or debit card.

Prepare for the worst
Once you've updated your office backup policies to ensure all of your important information is digitally saved to the cloud, you need to plan for how you'll work if a disaster actually occurs. If a fire or natural disaster destroys your office, you'll need a place to work and equipment including laptops, Internet and eventually desks, chairs and office supplies.

Create a formal plan for if your office becomes unusable so that your staff knows where and how it should continue to work. This plan may include a set phone or email chain to pass information, instructions on which clients to contact first and a list of duties for individual staff members to get the office up and running as quickly as possible.

While there will be many issues to worry about, having the client and office information you need won't be one of them. Because your information is backed up with your cloud-based case management system, you and your colleagues can access client data with a mobile device and Internet connection.

date:  Feb 25, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Improve your disaster recovery plans
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security, Immigration case management Read More

7 reasons why you need the cloud

posted by: INSZoom date: Jan 21, 2015 Data security, Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on 7 reasons why you need the cloud
Cloud-based case management software provides firms and companies with the tools they need to help their clients and improve their bottom lines.

For firm or business decision-makers, deciding to invest in new software takes thought and planning. Understandably, they want to know the costs, benefits, detriments and what to expect months and years down the road from the program and provider. Purchasing a program that isn't right for the firm or company can cause a major headache and in the end, will not only waste time and money, but put decision-makers off the idea of implementing new technology again.

The decision to purchase cloud-based case management software is a big one no matter what size the business, but immigration professionals can rest assured, using a strong immigration-focused CMS will do nothing but improve their daily lives and their companies' bottom lines.

"The decision to purchase cloud-based case management software is a big one no matter what size the business."

1. Necessary integration
Investing in the cloud promotes businesses and firms to integrate their existing programs with the CMS. HR departments can consolidate their time and data by integrating their human resources management and case management platforms, and attorneys can do the same by uniting their email and calendar applications with their CMS.

These integrations not only ensure information is consolidated on the user's end, but also where it's stored. This greatly reduces the challenges of accurate reporting and, if the situation arises, answering discovery requests.

2. Improved scalability
Sometimes businesses need more space, other times they realize they've taken on too much. Using a cloud-based CMS allows expanding companies and firms to quickly purchase more storage space from their provider, which is perfect for businesses that expect to take on new clients and matters in 2015.

3. Less hardware
A major plus of the cloud is the lack of hardware firms and companies need to use it. Businesses will continue to provide computers to their staff, but they no longer have to worry about servers that take up space and need additional security. Having the best hard drives and other electronic equipment is the cloud provider's responsibility.

Companies and firms that use their own in-house servers for a CMS program will need to make a significant capital investment if they want to enlarge their storage space. They'll also need to upgrade the equipment at least once every five to seven years.

Immigration professionals can find freedom and security in the cloud.Immigration professionals can find freedom and security in the cloud.

4. Quicker updates
Immigration professionals need the latest information and most up-to-date forms as soon as possible – meaning within a day, not weeks. CMS programs not based in the cloud are more troublesome to update because the vendor has to provide a separate upgrade or new version that users then have to install. Cloud-based platforms can be updated quickly and efficiently, with little to no work needed on the users end. If new forms come out, the attorneys and HR professionals can have them in as few as 24 hours.

5. Enhanced flexibility
Busy and traveling immigration attorneys need to be able to connect to work at a moment's notice and anywhere in the world.  A cloud-based CMS makes sure this can happen. All it takes is an Internet connection and the right security access to sign in to the CMS and work. This option is also great for firms and companies that allow employees to work from home.

6. Power security
There are whispers the cloud isn't as secure as people think, but firms and businesses working with a credible vendor that uses advanced physical and informational security don't need to worry. The cloud provides the security HR departments and law firms need to protect sensitive and confidential information.

"The cloud provides the security HR departments and law firms need to protect sensitive and confidential information."

Additionally, the physical security used on most data centers is much better than the security of the average office building, so professionals can worry less about what will happen to their data if there's a disaster such as flooding or fire.

Cloud vendors also routinely backup data from one data center to another. If physical harm is done to the facility, data remains safe in another center in a geographically separate area.

7. Convenient IT support
Many firms and businesses dread the moment they need to call their third-party IT provider or email their in-house staff. For most immigration professionals, addressing technology issues isn't their strong suit and for a majority of companies and law offices, paying for additional IT help is a financial drain. Businesses can cut down on what they spend on extra IT help by using a vendor that provides IT services for their cloud-based CMS.  

date:  Jan 21, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on 7 reasons why you need the cloud
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security, Immigration case management Read More

5 things lawyers should know when jumping in to the cloud

posted by: INSZoom date: Jan 21, 2015 Data security, Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on 5 things lawyers should know when jumping in to the cloud
Getting the hang of the cloud can take some time, but once attorneys dive in they'll fully realize the benefits.

It's 2015, so it's no shock that many immigration professionals, including attorneys, utilize the cloud to improve the efficiency of their practice and get positive outcomes for their clients. In fact, it's probably hard to go a day without hearing about the cloud. Law firms and in-house departments that have adopted the cloud understand the benefits, and now it's time for professionals who have been holding out to get onboard.

The true day-to-day benefit of the cloud comes from it making life easier. Immigration-specific case management software puts U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other nations' immigration forms just a few clicks away and reduces how often attorneys have to hassle with paper files. Lawyers spend less time looking for paperwork and more time helping their clients.

Lawyers can spend less time searching and holding files if they use the cloud.

In order to invest in the most robust CMS available, attorneys need to understand a few things about the cloud and the current state of the cloud products market:

"The cloud may seem like a new concept, but it has actually been around as long as email."

  1. It's just a fancy term for the Internet. The cloud may seem like a new concept, but it has actually been around as long as email. Cloud computing is simply the storing and retrieving of data through the Internet instead of from a single computer's hard drive. Data in the cloud is securely stored in either the cloud provider's data centers and users send or access information to and from the cloud through an online platform, or in a private platform created specifically for a business. These options are known as Software as a Service and Platform as a Service, respectively.
  2. It's here to stay. More lawyers in and outside of the immigration sector are using the cloud for storage and practice management applications. What was once a new and exciting option is becoming the norm. According to the most recent American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, about 30 percent of attorneys used cloud-based software in 2013 and 2014, compared to 21 percent in 2012. The rise in use is not only from younger attorneys who are entering the legal field knowing how the cloud works and how to implement it, but from professionals with decades of experience learning about and investing in this technology.
  3. It's as secure as you make it. There's a lot of talk about whether or not the cloud is as secure as when companies store data on their private internal servers. Both methods can potentially provide the privacy attorneys need to protect sensitive and confidential information. Ensuring the cloud is as safe as attorneys need it to be merely rests on lawyers doing their research and investing in a cloud provider that offers the right amount of physical security for their data centers and technological security for the traveling and stored data. The security advantage offered by the cloud provider is that it is often more cost-efficient for firms to not need separate IT support to keep their electronic defenses up to date.
  4. How you pay for it. The cost of the cloud can differ drastically depending on the services provided and amount of storage purchased. Some public clouds are free, like Google. However, cloud vendors who provide SaaS and PaaS will charge for their product and ongoing services such as the storage space and IT support. Many SaaS providers charge for the implementation plus monthly fees, which can be based off the amount of storage the firm needs. Firms may dislike the prospect of another monthly bill, but the cost of SaaS can often be deducted as a business expense, providing a tax benefit.
  5. Not all providers are created equal. The growing popularity of the cloud means the market is now inundated with a variety of providers and products, including many free options. However, not every cloud provider puts the same amount of time and effort into physical and informational security. Firms should invest in a vendor that's upfront about their security measures, provides data centers located in the U.S. and a digital environment protected by encryption and ISO certification.
date:  Jan 21, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on 5 things lawyers should know when jumping in to the cloud
by:  INSZoom category:  Data security, Immigration case management Read More
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