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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. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  2. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  3. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  4. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  5. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

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