Does Your Law Firm Need a VPN for eDiscovery?

04 August 2022 by Anith eDiscovery VPN

Takeaway: VPNs give you a secure internet connection, protect your data from prying eyes, and keep your client-related Google search patterns private. So, they’re critical for even smaller law firms. But they should be only one component of your larger eDiscovery security system. And this system should also include precautions like multifactor authentication, user permissions, and in-app production sharing.

eDiscovery cases need flexible storage options to handle the continual ebb and flow of data.

eDiscovery cases regularly expand and contract as part of the flow of eDiscovery. For instance, a client might send some files on a Tuesday and follow that up with a new cache on Thursday. Meanwhile, you’ve deleted 15 folders of non-responsive files after each transfer. So, over a single week, your case has grown and shrunk multiple times – a regular pattern with eDiscovery. And this means you’ll want a flexible storage option for this continual ebb and flow of data.

The Cloud is the perfect solution for this particular need.

The Cloud’s unique feature is its near-limitless storage with its global network of high-powered servers. So, the right cloud software lets you auto-upgrade and downgrade your eDiscovery storage space depending on your firm’s data needs. And cloud servers are cost-effective because they hold data from multiple businesses, so everyone splits the bill. Plus, your cloud provider handles any technical issues that pop up. Learn more about the Cloud.

But data security is an issue when your eDiscovery files live in the easily-accessible Cloud.

The Cloud comes with bank-grade security, so your data is safe once it’s on cloud servers. But hackers can potentially intercept your data as it travels to and from those servers. This is especially true when you’re using public Wi-Fi. (That’s why we’re warned not to, for example, pay credit card bills via a hotel’s internet connection.) You’re much more protected when using your home/office password-protected Wi-Fi, but you’re still vulnerable in other ways that we’ll discuss shortly.

Law firms must pay special attention to data security since they deal with privileged client information.

Law firm firms regularly deal with sensitive client information, so you’ll need to audit possible weaknesses in your data network. (Note: We’re talking about personal client data like their racial/ethnic origin, religious/political beliefs, etc., biometric data, health-related data, and more. Data that even their business associates, law enforcement, and the government might not have access to.) Most of us are careful about installing virus protection, not clicking on suspicious links, or downloading unverified apps. But all this won’t matter if we’re dealing with an unsecured internet connection. And data security is critical nowadays with an ABA Journal article revealing that of 200 law firms polled in a study: 95% didn’t stick to their own cyber policies, 100% didn’t follow their client’s policies, and 53% didn’t have a data breach response plan.

Here’s where a VPN can help protect your internet connection.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) repurpose public internet connections into private networks – masking your internet protocol (IP) address and creating secure, encrypted connections. It creates a protected ‘tunnel’ to send and receive data away from prying eyes. And it offers security, privacy, and anonymity from cybercriminals, government agencies, internet service providers, and more. The security component is handy when traveling and accessing public Wi-Fi connections, but the privacy component is equally important. For instance, say you’re researching a medical condition for a client. Without a VPN, you’re revealing sensitive information to anyone who cares to look – even if you’re using an ‘incognito’ mode for private browsing. And over time, your internet service provider (ISP) can potentially compile and analyze your search patterns, even selling your browsing history to other businesses.

So, yes, law firms (even smaller ones) need to use VPNs. But ensure you choose a trusted VPN provider.

VPNs solve many security issues even if you don’t use public Wi-Fi. But the wrong VPN could create more problems than it solves. Remember, you’re keeping your internet/browsing data from your ISP but are handing it over to your VPN provider instead. (And this can backfire, like in the 2015 case of free VPN service Hola selling users’ bandwidth to paying customers of another of its services. This meant random third parties could potentially hijack Hola-users’ internet connections to run illegal activities.) So, spend time selecting a trusted VPN provider and read the fine print when signing up. (How to choose the best VPN service for your needs.)

VPNs are only a part of your larger eDiscovery security needs, though.

Even with a VPN, you’ll need other eDiscovery security measures. For example, here are three must-haves.

1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to prevent unauthorized sign-ins.

MFA adds a layer of security to cloud computing by demanding more than one piece of information when users try to sign. So, you’ll prove your identity by entering a password followed by an authentication code sent to you via SMS or a trusted ‘authenticator’ app like Google Authenticator. (Note: ATMs use MFA, too, when asking for your debit card and a PIN.) Learn how eDiscovery applications set up MFA.

2. User ‘permissions’ to control what users can do with case data.

Often you won’t want all team members to have complete control of a case. That’s why the best eDiscovery applications let you create tiers, allotting varying access levels to your cases. For instance, you might designate some team members as ‘reviewers,’ allowing them to only search and review data. A higher level called ‘users’ might have additional privileges like uploading and deleting files, adding/removing tags, and so on. The next higher ‘admin’ level might be the one to control ‘reviewer’ and ‘user’ permissions, while the highest ‘owner’ level might handle subscription fees, adding/deleting cases, and more.

3. In-app case sharing to control who can access your productions.

Hackers often find it easiest to intercept productions when sending them to others. And that’s why the best eDiscovery applications let you share them via in-app links. So, authorized recipients will click the link to access productions directly from within your eDiscovery software. And you can invalidate the shared link at any point, revoking case access. This is much smoother than mailing/emailing productions and worrying about losing control of them. Plus, you’re sharing completed, redacted productions (not the original files), so there’s no chance of the recipient mistakenly having access to privileged/sensitive content. Learn more about sharing eDiscovery productions.

If you’re looking for eDiscovery software with more features like these, consider trying GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery subscription service designed to simplify every aspect of eDiscovery. And it has a lot going for it. For instance:

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?