Security Simplified

The folks at the SANS Institute want to make it easier for small businesses and individuals to keep up with security risks. They offer two proactive and useful free resources to help keep up with new security threats, best practices, and security education.

  1. OUCH is a monthly newsletter in PDF that provides an overview of a security issue, followed by a more detailed article, then resources to learn more. The newsletter is written in plain language and recently has covered issues such as identifying counterfeit websites, using the cloud safely, disposing your mobile devices safely, and metadata. Subscribe for free to receive these short, well written topical security overviews. OUCH is “distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. You are encouraged to distribute OUCH! within your organization or share with anyone you like as long as it is not used for commercial purposes.”
  2. For a daily dose of security tips, subscribe to the Security Awareness Tip of the Day.  You can subscribe via RSS feed, follow them on Twitter, or visit the site.

If you are interested in learning more about security for your law practice, LPMT will be offering a CLE course on November 20 from 12-1:30 with guest speaker Kevin Thompson.  Watch the CLE announcements for registration and course description.

Upcoming LPMT Programs and Training

Don’t miss upcoming CLE programs and free training sessions:

Coming up in August:

  • How to… Take Control of Social Media with Hootsuite
  • How Lawyers Can Use Collaboration Tools

Coming up in September:

  • How to… Use MS OneNote for Project Management
  • How to… Automate Functions in MS Word
  • Smarter, Better, Faster: Document Assembly

Coming up in October:

  • How to…  Get the Most Out of LinkedIn
  • How to…  Manage Complex Tasks in Basecamp
  • How to…  Use MS Outlook Add-ons
  • Intersection of Ethics and Technology

PLUS Law Firm Startup Bootcamp on Oct. 4 – everything you need to know to start (or update) your law firm!

Register online at the Chicago Bar Association – CLE - CLE Seminars  and check the LPMT “Upcoming Programs” calendar for program descriptions, dates and times.

Power Down: Business Continuity Planning for Law Firms

The derecho that swept from Chicago to Washington DC on Friday, June 29 left millions in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic without power for days. A post in Forbes highlights our increasing reliability on the power grid, and the need for diversification of risk with cloud services to avoid downtime.

Business continuity plans are designed to help a firm respond to any type of disaster, from a hard drive failure to a hurricane.  They incorporate not only technology backup plans, but also illustrate when the plan should be put into action and to what extent. They identify key players, and what to do if those essential personnel aren’t available.

The ABA Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness had BDA Global, LLC prepare a planning guide for law firms to use to create a business continuity plan. Freely available, this  guide includes step by step explanations of what should be in the plan, how to create a plan and includes a sample plan in the appendix. In the foreword former ABA President Steve Zack notes:

Disaster planning is especially important for lawyers. Not only is it necessary to protect, preserve, and in extreme cases rebuild one’s practice or firm, lawyers also have special obligations to their clients. Lawyers must represent the client competently and diligently, safeguard client’s property, and maintain client confidentiality and communications. These obligations are neither excused nor waived following a disaster.

The guide is an excellent resource, as well as the other resources at www.americanbar.org/disaster, in helping law firms plan for the inevitable.

Some Technology Backup Best Practices

  • Maintain geo-redundant backups
  • Regularly do test restores and create written instructions for restoring
  • Keep all software license numbers and installation discs
  • Create images for computers and file servers
  • Keep a local copy of cloud data
  • Consider how data created on mobile devices is backed up
  • Have a current and accurate network diagram

More information regarding computer backups, risk management and disaster recovery are available from the ABA Disaster Planning website on the Resources for Lawyers and Law Firms page.

Offline Google Docs Tutorial

A fantastic general tech blog, GroovyPost, just posted a nice step-by-step tutorial on “How to Enable and Set Up Google Docs Offline“.  Sometimes you need offline access to files in “the cloud” and it is nice that Google works to make files available  locally.  In fact, you can access most of Google’s services offline, such as Gmail and calendaring. What about other services? Read my recent article on accessing your law office email, files and matters offline in “Fog Bank: When the Cloud is Down“.

Fog Bank: When the Cloud Is Down

Read my Attorney At Work article on how lawyers who are dependent on the cloud can be productive even when offline:

Sometimes you just don’t have access to the Internet. Whether you’re traveling in a plane, or in a remote (or sometimes not so remote) area that has no WiFi, 3G or 4G coverage, or simply because your cable or T1 line is down due to weather or some other outage, on occasion you will have some forced downtime because you can’t access your cloud-based documents, send emails, or pull up a client’s contact information from a cloud-based provider. In fact, it is likely to happen at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately, there are ways to access online information locally.

Ethics and Technology: The Rules are Changing (podcast)

Listen to this month’s Digital Edge podcast on ethics and technology:

This month Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of Law Practice Management & Technology for the Chicago Bar Association. The topic is Ethics and Technology: The Rules are Changing. This month’s discussion covers a wide range of topics including the ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission’s recommendations as well as state opinions about lawyers offering coupon deals and other electronic marketing efforts, cloud computing, SaaS and outsourcing.

You Are Backing Up Your Gmail, Right?

See one of my past posts to the AttorneyatWork blog “You Are Backing Up Your Gmail, Right?“:

Google’s Gmail has made news in the past couple of years by “losing” users’ e-mail—often years’ worth. While these outages have primarily affected the free Gmail service, even access to the paid Google Apps has occasionally been lost. More egregiously, in 2008 Charter Communications (an ISP) accidently deleted 14,000 customers e-mail accounts—and all the e-mail messages in them. For lawyers who are using the free Gmail, or other webmail services, as their primary e-mail tool for client communications, one must ask, “How are you backing that up?”

Cloud Computing Introduction

Mystified by “the cloud”? See the primer Reach for the Cloud, originally published in the January 2012 issue of Trial Magazine by Catherine Sanders Reach. Questions to ask of any cloud vendor:

  • Where is the data stored, who has access to it, is it backed up?
  • How do I keep a local copy of my data?
  • What security processes are in place?
  • If I discontinue the service or stop paying the bill what happens to my data?