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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. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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