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

Kim Brand
September 12, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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 


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.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.