In today’s digital world, most legal professionals rely on electronic records and files to complete and manage their day-to-day work. If those records were lost, damaged, or accessed by an unauthorized third party, your ability to meet the demands of your job and to meet clients’ needs would be in jeopardy.
March 31 is “World Backup Day,” designed to remind individuals and businesses around the globe about the importance of creating secure electronic backups. When you have a reliable, current backup of key data, you can be confident you’ll be able to carry on even if the unexpected happens.
Potential Risks of Not Having Current Backups
Data loss can occur in a variety of ways, including:
- Loss or theft of a laptop, tablet, or other mobile device with data stored only on the device’s hard drive
- File corruption due to a virus or malware
- Damage to your computer’s hard drive from dropping the device or spilling liquids on it
- Natural disaster, such as a flood, fire, or tornado, that wipes out your office’s infrastructure
- Unauthorized access by a cyber criminal
- Systems malfunction
- Human error
If any of the above events occur and you don’t have a current backup of your data, you risk more than just being inconvenienced. If you lose client records, you may also lose those clients. That means losing the revenue you would have earned from handling their legal matters, not to mention the potential reputational harm that may follow. You also run the risk of censure by your state’s Office of Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility, or a committee charged with overseeing legal professionals’ ethics.
Cybersecurity Presents an Ongoing Threat for Legal Professionals
It’s not enough to back up your data if your network infrastructure or the backup itself are not secure; you still run the risk of loss due to cyberattacks.
In its most recent annual “Techreport” (2018 Cybersecurity), the American Bar Association reminded attorneys of their duty to safeguard client data, stating that attorneys “have common law duties to protect client information and often have contractual and regulatory obligations to protect information relating to clients and other personally identifiable information, like health and financial information.”
While many attorneys and firms simply don’t believe their data is at risk, statistics show otherwise. According to the ABA’s report, firms of every size are at risk of cyber-attacks. Firms reporting breaches were broken down by size as follows:
- Solo firms: 14%
- 2-9 employees: 24%
- 10-49 employees: 24%
- 50-99 employees: 42%
- 100 or more employees: 31%
Understanding Options for Backing Up Data
There are a variety of ways you can back up your client data and other firm information. However, if you don’t choose a secure backup method, you could end up no better off than if you hadn’t created a backup in the first place. For example, backing up your computer’s hard drive to an external hard drive may just mean you have an extra vulnerability. That external hard drive could become lost, stolen, damaged, or infected.
There are also many cloud-based backup and storage options. However, security can vary. While a generic cloud-hosted online storage solution may make sense for some businesses, the legal industry’s confidentiality and privacy obligations demand more.
While there are costs associated with storing data in a secure infrastructure and hosting environment where it is backed up regularly, such costs pale in comparison with the consequences firms face when they are not proactive about managing their data.
The bottom line is that, whether in solo practice or in a mega law firm, legal professionals need to know their clients’ information and other key business data is securely backed up, and that it is available in the event it is needed.
Are you ready to participate in World Backup Day this March 31? Special Counsel offers a variety of resources designed to power and support the legal industry. To learn more, check out our Hosted Services today.
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