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Start Page: Disaster! It lurks around the corner – protect data now

Kim Brand
September 12, 2012
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Kim BrandYou are hanging by a thread and you don’t even know it. Your Internet connection is delivered by two wires that connect to a box on the outside of your office – and all that separates you from disaster is a cable removed from a jack on the wall.

You store critical information important to the success of a case or the reputation of your firm on a server that is out of warranty. You ‘think’ you have a backup – but you can’t remember the last time you made one or where you keep it. Everything is working now. What could possibly break?

Computers have become so reliable that we seldom consider the possibility that something can go very wrong very quickly; credit that to the increased quality control that manufacturers achieve to remain competitive. The cost of a single support call can exceed the profit on a new PC. Warranty service is expensive, too.startpage-facts-1.gifThe fact is that thousands of PCs and servers in Indianapolis fail every year. Google, which 

operates millions of hard drives, expects 10 percent of them to fail every year. Translate that your office: If you operate a network of 20 PCs, two of them are likely to stop working this year. If one of them is used by an attorney on a deadline you call that a VBD: Very Bad Day.

Given the hyper-dependence we have on our PCs, servers, networks and Internet, one would assume that a reasonable person would array multiple defenses against the most common threats. In my experience, that assumption would be uncorroborated by the facts. Few firms are prepared.
Pair threats with defenses

Technology has provided us with tools that allow unparalleled productivity. And it would seem that these new gadgets create new threats to the safety of important information. But that would be incorrect; you only need to worry about three: acts of God, acts of violence and acts of stupidity.

Each requires a different defense. Offsite backups, surge suppressors and redundant hard drives are the best defenses against acts of God. Anti-virus and anti-malware software, secure passwords, firewalls and encryption programs repel miscreants who want to steal your data or destroy it. Mistakes and mishaps are the most common threats. 

A series of backups, good policies and procedures, and frequent training can help defend against those.


Inventory services

Maintenance of critical services is often overlooked in backup plans. Imagine that your Internet goes down. How would your firm cope without email 

startpage-tip-box.gif

for two or three days? What if your phone system goes down? With modern VOIP systems they are likely to fail at the same time. Even simple problems can take a day to repair. Forget to renew your domain name? Misplace the bill for your DSL service? Maintenance in your building disconnects cables without warning? Each can take from hours to days to diagnose and repair.

A simple disaster recovery plan starts with an inventory of every service you depend on, whom to call when it breaks and what to do to work around an outage. Law firms depend on PCs and phone companies, Internet service and email providers, network admins and software vendors. Assemble the contacts, account numbers, service agreements and work-arounds before you need them. The list should be updated frequently and audited.
Backup is not disaster recovery

Be aware that a good backup is far from a disaster recovery solution. I recommend protecting the entire ‘Value Stack’ on a server or a critical PC:

• Hardware: vendor, repair/replacement arrangements
startpage-facts-2.gif • Operating System: licenses, activation codes, etc.• Configuration: users, groups and permissions
• Application Software: licenses and updates

• Data

Generally this means

keeping an ‘image’ of the server or PC on multiple/inexpensive USB drives. Backup software may be included with your system … or added on. It may cost $1,000 or more. But the cost is negligible compared to the potential loss.

Remember: An unmonitored backup system is like not having a backup at all. The most important part of a good backup plan? Making someone responsible to make sure it happens.•

__________

Kim Brand is president of Indianapolis-based Computer Experts. He is also the inventor of FileSafe – the only on-premises server priced like a cloud service. He was recently appointed Adjunct Professor of Legal Informatics at IU. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Did someone not tell people who have access to the Chevy Volts that it has a gas engine and will run just like a normal car? The batteries give the Volt approximately a 40 mile range, but after that the gas engine will propel the vehicle either directly through the transmission like any other car, or gas engine recharges the batteries depending on the conditions.

  2. Catholic, Lutheran, even the Baptists nuzzling the wolf! http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-documents-reveal-obama-hhs-paid-baptist-children-family-services-182129786-four-months-housing-illegal-alien-children/ YET where is the Progressivist outcry? Silent. I wonder why?

  3. Thank you, Honorable Ladies, and thank you, TIL, for this interesting interview. The most interesting question was the last one, which drew the least response. Could it be that NFP stamps are a threat to the very foundation of our common law American legal tradition, a throwback to the continental system that facilitated differing standards of justice? A throwback to Star Chamber’s protection of the landed gentry? If TIL ever again interviews this same panel, I would recommend inviting one known for voicing socio-legal dissent for the masses, maybe Welch, maybe Ogden, maybe our own John Smith? As demographics shift and our social cohesion precipitously drops, a consistent judicial core will become more and more important so that Justice and Equal Protection and Due Process are yet guiding stars. If those stars fall from our collective social horizon (and can they be seen even now through the haze of NFP opinions?) then what glue other than more NFP decisions and TRO’s and executive orders -- all backed by more and more lethally armed praetorians – will prop up our government institutions? And if and when we do arrive at such an end … will any then dare call that tyranny? Or will the cost of such dissent be too high to justify?

  4. This is easily remedied, and in a fashion that every church sacrificing incense for its 501c3 status and/or graveling for government grants should have no problem with ..... just add this statue, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capitoline_she-wolf_Musei_Capitolini_MC1181.jpg entitled, "Jesus and Cousin John learn to suckle sustenance from the beloved Nanny State." Heckfire, the ACLU might even help move the statue in place then. And the art will certainly reflect our modern life, given the clergy's full-bellied willingness to accede to every whim of the new caesars. If any balk, just threaten to take away their government milk … they will quiet down straightaway, I assure you. Few, if any of them, are willing to cross the ruling elite as did the real J&J

  5. Tina has left the building.

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