T-Systems sets an example and sends lawyers and notaries into the cloud [update]

June 12, 2013 |

Along with the Information Technology Working Group of the German Bar Association (davit) T-Systems offers all lawyers and notaries in Germany a secure document management in the cloud. The corresponding cooperation agreement was signed by the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary and the davit on the 64th German Lawyers Day in Dusseldorf. With the cloud solution the jurists can create, edit and archive electronic documents in the cloud and create any number of digital files. The solution is scalable and charged according to a usage-based rent, what means that there are no investment costs. The access can be purchased via davit and T-Systems.

Tailored to the needs of lawyers and notaries

T-Systems has the own developed audit-proof standard solution tailored additionally both professionally and technically to meet the needs of lawyers and notaries. The service is compliant with § 203 for “Berufsgeheimnisträger” (person whose profession swears them to confidentiality) and also meets all the requirements of the seizure protection of confidential information between lawyers and clients. To access the system an eight to 50 digit long digital key is necessary that is only known by the user. According to T-Systems no employee can access and read the data in the cloud solution at any time. Even not for maintenance. For privacy reasons, the documents are located in each case on servers in Germany in a German data center certified according to internationally recognized safety standards.

In the background operates the solution doculife of the Swiss partner Document Future AG. This integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office and Outlook. If the user has a De-Mail account, he can use this via a plug-in and send encrypted messages to clients or to the courts. Messages and attachments reach the recipient or recipients, thus safe and conclusive. Conversely, lawyers and notaries can also receive De-mail messages. However, conventional e-mails can also be received but only from senders that the user has activated.

Lawyers and notaries become mobile

Using a mobile device with Apple iOS also allows to safely retrieve all documents from the cloud from anywhere. Users of Windows 8 and Android have to wait a bit. But pilot projects already have been launched. The files can also be set for resubmission. The cloud application then reminds the user to the tasks ahead.

Update: More information about the offering

I had a briefing with T-Systems about this service yesterday. Here are the other important facts.

Basically, T-Systems offers all its customers, which not applies only to this lawyer and notary solution, a private cloud. This means that companies will be connected via a dedicated network line with a T-Systems data center and access the hosted private cloud or virtual private cloud over it. For this purpose different solutions are physically isolated from each other in blocks, in order to ensure safety.

The service for lawyers and notaries also runs separately on a dedicated platform in a separate physical block within a T-Systems data center in Germany. The user must not necessarily access over a dedicated MPLS connection to the data center and can also use a standard Internet connection.

The security for the access to the system is ensured, as described above, over a digital key with up to 50 digits lenghts. This is exclusively owned by the user and stored on the local system. This also means that this key should never be lost. Otherwise, the data is lost, as T-Systems has no way to recover the key or to access the data without this key.

The access to the data in the private cloud ensued via a classic local software installation of doculife that has full functionality, the Webrowser with limited functionality, or via mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. The functional limitation in the browser is for example the non-existent e-mail integration. The mobile apps are still in a pure read-only mode.

The secure transfer of data from the user to the cloud is ensured using the browser via HTTPS (SSL). If the local doculife software including Outlook integration is used, an end-to-end encryption is built. Is doculife used to send an e-mail including an attachment via the De-Mail service, according to T-Systems’, an end-to-end encryption is far ensured, that only the De-Mail is opened briefly on the servers, the doculife attachment but still remains encrypted.

The solution can be used in six various configurations, including three different consulting packages whose prices can be find in this list.

Comment: A sign for all businesses

Technologically considered the cloud has arrived in Germany. Many companies have already realized how they can use it to increase their productivity and create more capital, time and room for innovation. Nevertheless, some legal and privacy concerns, as well as problems to build up the necessary confidence in the providers, exist. The first person to contact in such cases is usually the lawyer. This then appeased with keywords such as order data processing, Safe Harbor, EU Model Clauses or personal SLA contracts. Because the legal conditions have been created. However, there is still a lack of confidence. This is something very subjective, which no lawyer or data protection officer directly can convey.

The trust in the cloud can therefore only be strengthened when also users with highly sensitive evaluated data set on cloud solutions. This step T-Systems and the davit have gone now and thus set an example for all companies that are still raising concerns to store, among others, personal data on a cloud service. One should not be overlooked here. Lawyers and notaries are working alongside with personal data also with other extremely sensitive data, which are considered to be more critical. In addition, they still have stricter laws than the average company.

Mentioned only is the § 203 StGB “Verletzung von Privatgeheimnissen” (Violation of private secrets), in which is regulated, how to deal with violations belonging to the personal lives secret or any trade or business secret. Or the requirements of the seizure protection of confidential information between lawyers and clients. So, lawyers and notaries belong legally and safety to the most vulnerable groups in the cloud, for which T-Systems and the davit have created a solution.

I was recently in a think tank, where we talked about how to build cloud services for lawyers and accountants legally compliant but also consider the technical and organizational parts. There also some lawyers were present, who reported from practice, and who would sooner rather than later rely on cloud solutions to access their data, especially from anywhere and at any time.

Even other cloud providers should follow this example and provide maximum legal security, such as the audit-proof archiving and storing of data. Another asset, German providers quite clearly have to play off as an advantage over international cloud providers is to offer true(!) cloud services from a German data center, which is certified according to internationally recognized safety standards.

Category: Management

About the Author ()

Rene Buest is Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, covering cloud computing and IT infrastructures. He is member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network, top cloud computing blogger in Germany and one of the worldwide top 50 bloggers in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter. For more than 16 years he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies. Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional cloud computing and technology articles, speaker and participant of experts rounds. On CloudUser.de he writes about topics from the fields of cloud computing, it-infrastructures, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.

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