Law Firm Security, Disaster Recovery, and the Benefits of the Cloud

Security. According the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey results, 58% of lawyers surveyed cited it as the top reason that prevented them from using cloud computing in their law practices.

The problem is, most lawyers should be more concerned with their law firm’s current file storage arrangement and IT set up. Because in most cases, solo and small law firm’s legal files are anything but secure. Case in point–the Pennsylvania law firm that literally went up in smoke, as I discussed in last week’s blog post. In that case, the firm used physical legal files, all of which were lost in the fire that destroyed the office building in which their law firm was located.

Off-site data backup is key

One of the best ways to prevent this from happening to your firm is to move to a paperless office. But simply digitizing your files isn’t enough. The key is off-site backup.

Don’t believe me? Well consider the law firms that lost their data because of flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Many New York City law firms learned their lesson the hard way when their servers, which were often housed in the basements of Manhattan buildings, were destroyed because of Hurricane Sandy and poor planning.

More recently, another law firm learned of the perils of on-site storage, as reported by the ABA Journal. In this case, the North Carolina law firm stored its data on its computers’ hard drives.

As explained in the article, a computer virus completely disabled the firm’s computers, making all of its files inaccessible:

Attorney Paul Goodson and his staff can’t access his Charlotte, N.C., law firm’s files after they were locked up by a computer virus, WSOC reports.

Like other businesses in the city, the firm was targeted via email. Once an attachment was opened, the Crypto Locker virus took over. Thousands of documents stored on his computer were made inaccessible, he tells the station, explaining: “It was actually an email that looked like it was coming from our phone system because our system sends voice mail messages as an attachment.”

Like many lawyers, Goodsen’s only copy of his firm’s data resided locally. So unfortunately for Goodsen, since the firm’s data had not been backed up offsite, there was no way to access it once the virus had infected his firm’s computers. Goodsen was out of luck.

The importance of redundant data backup

This wouldn’t have happened if the firm’s data had been backed up to the cloud. Doing so would have created redundancies which would have allowed him to recover recent copies of his firm’s valuable client data. Offsite data backup would have allowed his firm to conduct business as usual instead of being held hostage by malicious data hackers.

That’s why taking important security steps such as redundant data backup are so important–both for the individual law firms and for cloud computing providers.

Of course, no form of technology is perfect and inevitable downtime is a fact of life. Even so, you can make technology decisions for your firm that will ultimately enhance flexibility and mobility, thus making it easier to access your firm’s securely stored data, no matter what the circumstances.

And, just as lawyers should ensure that their data is backed up in more than one location, so too must cloud computing providers. The key is geo-redundancy–where data stored in the cloud is backed up to multiple servers located in different geographical regions. That way if a natural disaster hits one region and takes a server offline, servers located on other coasts will take over, providing law firms with seamless, uninterrupted access to their data in the face of natural disasters like a hurricane or an earthquake.

Learn more about security in the cloud

That’s why MyCase has multiple redundancies measures built into our platform in order to ensure that our customers receive the best service possible. To learn more about the security measures we take to protect your law firm’s data, take a look at our Security and Data Redundancy white paper. Learn why security is a top priority for us–and why it should be for your law firm, too.

–Nicole Black

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