Power Up Your E-Discovery Search by Migrating Your Legacy Archive Data
“Migrating legacy archive data to the cloud and additional platforms that are properly secured can provide quick and easy access to important data necessary for the operation of a business, law firm or other entity without the risks present with in-house storage from multiple attack points.”
-- Steven Weisman, JD, senior lecturer, Bentley University Department of Law, Tax and Financial Planning
With the sheer volume of business email and digital attachments created every minute, it’s imperative for corporate legal teams and law firms to be able to search, review and share electronic data quickly and securely during e-discovery.
This critical need prompts many organizations to migrate their enterprise information archiving function to the cloud to enable more efficient cloud forensics.
What is cloud forensics?
In Impact of Cloud Computing on Digital Forensic Investigations, Head of Department of Informatics, Dr. Anthony Keane and member of the Research Group, Stephen O’Shaughnessy of the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, define cloud forensics as: “The use of proven methods for the preservation, collection, validation, identification, analysis, interpretation, documentation and presentation of digital evidence from distributed computing systems in a manner that maintains the integrity of the evidence so that it is admissible in a court of law.”
What are the benefits of data archiving in the cloud?
Migrating legacy archive data to the cloud has myriad upsides for e-discovery:
- Faster e-discovery & litigation response
- Clearer chain of custody
- Reduced risk & stronger security
“Inefficient and expensive discovery doesn’t aid anyone. It doesn’t aid the client, it doesn’t aid the lawyer, and it doesn't aid courts,” notes Philadelphia attorney Jana Landon, who co-founded and chairs the e-discovery team at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP. “Many are growing intolerant of inefficient discovery. The easier it is for the entire litigation team, the happier the judge will be.”
Faster E-discovery & Litigation Response
Litigation comes to a halt until e-discovery searches are complete, Landon says. “It’s the first thing you want to get out of the way. So if your archive is hard to access, it’s a real issue.”
Cloud archiving provides your team access to business data – including emails and attachments – wherever they are and whatever device they’re using, even when the primary server may be down or compromised.
Accessibility accelerates response times and reduces the overall time needed to complete the multi-step e-discovery process. The Electronic Discovery Reference Model includes these steps:
- Identifying potential electronically stored information (ESI) sources so you can determine what’s relevant to the case. Targeted search and selection makes a big difference, Landon notes, because during discovery “you’re still looking at a lot of data that’s only tangentially related to the case.”
- Preservation safeguards ESI from inappropriate alteration or destruction. This is where the chain of custody and defensible disposition come in (see below). Many cloud archive solutions automatically encrypt data, track chains of custody and monitor disposition dates.
- Collection of ESI for use in e-discovery. Some cloud archive storage solutions automate capture and storage to ensure laptop, web and mobile email is collected and safely preserved.
- Processing to reduce the volume of ESI. This may include converting it to formats that are easier to review and analyze. File archiving software automatically scans data and assigns metadata like the email header and keywords. Automated journaling combines metadata with other information to create a searchable record.
- Reviewing for relevance and privilege. Cloud-based information archiving solutions feature case review capabilities so you can perform and save searches, and then run queries across saved searches.
- Analyzing for content and context, such as keywords.
- Production puts ESI into appropriate forms and delivers it to others, including third-party e-discovery providers. Automated tagging makes it faster and easier to export ESI to internal team members, external counsel or an e-discovery company.
- Presenting ESI in original or “near-native” forms at depositions, hearings, trials, etc.
Clearer Chain of Custody
Protecting legacy archiving stores with tamper-resistant chains of custody is easier in the cloud because:
- Cloud-based information archiving solutions automatically track every operation on every message and file, so the risks of tampering and human error are dramatically reduced.
- Digital hashing makes sure that anyone who gets their hands on evidentiary data can’t overwrite or otherwise edit without detection. A hashing algorithm creates a unique digital impression for each email and attachment. If even a tiny change is made, the mismatch is immediately evident.
Tracking and hashing functions ensure a verified chain of custody for every item in your legacy data archive.
Reduced Risk & Stronger Security
Migrating legacy archives to the cloud improves your ability to understand and manage risks related to your data and your organization through:
- Data Assurance & Redundancy. Cloud-based data storage reduces risk through redundancy. Supplement your geographically dispersed data centers with a cloud-based archive that can continue to operate even if your physical servers go down or if a fire or natural disaster should strike. That’s crucial for data protection and resilience. When users archive file and message data, an original copy, detailed metadata and a copy of any data modified by policy enforcement is kept. All this data is encrypted and stored in triplicate for built-in redundancy with security in multiple geographically dispersed data centers.
- Data Retention & Disposition. Cloud archive solutions enable you to centralize data retention, defensible disposition, and other governance operations. And migrating to the cloud creates an opportunity to review legacy archive data that can legally be disposed of. This reduces migration time and cost and mitigates exposure to cyber threats.“Law firms should undergo a process to determine what data will be migrated,” notes Butler Rubin attorney Dan Cotter in Chicago. “A process of reviewing what is saved or archived and comparing it to the firm's applicable retention policies and professional obligations may narrow the volume of data to be migrated. This process should include physical files kept offsite in storage as well as data kept electronically.”
- Security & Compliance. Cloud solutions keep ESI safe from harm with 24/7 threat monitoring and automated alerts to support proper identity and access management. This is especially important for organizations responding to cybersecurity issues like the General Data Protection Regulation or HIPAA/HITECH. “Cloud archiving avoids the problems of the multiple attack points for most companies,” Weisman says. “A single weak link at a company can lead to devastating losses if data is not stored in the cloud.”
“Migration to the cloud done well will assist the firm in a number of ways, including a centralized archival system that is searchable and purged of unnecessary data,” Cotter notes. “The speed of the cloud solution likely will be far faster than the onsite archival system currently in use by the firm.”
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