Avert Disaster: Protect Your Practice with Online Backups – ABA

According to Joe Hartley & Wells Anderson,  “Now is the time to protect your practice from disaster. Whatever your current backup system, you owe it to yourself and your clients to take additional, vital precautions. They can save your livelihood and quickly return you to helping your clients.”

Their article explains why you need an Internet backup system, what the best choices are, and how to setup your system.

They write:

Traditional backup systems no longer suffice. Widespread disasters can strike anywhere in the country. In less than a dozen years, professional offices have been destroyed completely by the Los Angeles earthquake, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, and now the hurricane winds and floods in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

In these catastrophes, thousands of firms lost most or all of their vital data both on their destroyed computers and on their backup tapes, CDs, DVDs, and removable hard drives. Some lost their on-site backup media, others lost backups stored locally away from the office, too.

Less sweeping events, such as equipment theft, mudslide, fire, or tornado can wreak similar havoc to individual offices or buildings.

By backing up your vital information to the Internet, you protect it from disasters that can reach both your onsite and offsite backups. By completely automating the process, you minimize or eliminate the threat that common human errors will defeat your system.

“But the Internet is too insecure to protect our confidential information,” proclaim all too many lawyers. “We don’t trust sending it out onto the Internet.”

In truth their physical offices are less secure. These lawyers do not appreciate that freely available encryption technology enables them to make their data hacker-proof. They do not understand that files stored on their computers and servers are more vulnerable than securely backed up files in an Internet data storage facility.

Online services and do-it-yourself Internet backup systems now make it possible to store huge amounts of data confidentially and economically outside the region of your law practice. These services and systems can provide highly effective shelter from regional disasters like Hurricane Katrina and a wide array of lesser calamities.

The classic approaches to computer backups are no longer adequate.

They also discuss issues about security, saying “For the most secure, reliable Internet backups, choose a fully automated service…” and to “consider is the privacy of your data. Do you want to hold the exclusive “key” to your information or do you want a trusted company to be able to unlock your data if you somehow lose your key?”

We prefer the model where you hold the exclusive “key” to unlock the encrypted data stored on our servers. This assures you that no one, including our own system administrators can have any access to your data. Because of the risks of not being able to recover should you loose the key, we encourage you to share the key with senior staff and store it in a safe place. We also ask our clients to test their backups on a regular basis which gives you the assurance your backups are online and well, and helps you remember your key.

Published by the American Bar Association, October 2005

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