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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. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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