A Series on Technology: Data Protection
For some, our recent crisis was manageable because they were already accustomed to working remotely. For others, it proved a nightmare. This is our seventh installment on technology. You can bury your head in the sand or you can embrace the new technology available for your practice. It doesn’t require an IT degree or an IT department. Incorporating advances in technology into your practice is easier now than it has ever been. Even if you have stuck your toe in the sea of new technology, now is the time to wade in a little deeper. How can technology help your practice? How hard is it?
Let’s talk about data protection.
First, if you aren’t keeping your data in the cloud, you should strongly consider it. See our previous post on the cloud. If you are keeping any information on your desktop computer or on your own servers, you should have a regular and effective backup plan, system, and routine.
Some of you are still backing up your data yourself and taking it home with you on a hard drive or tape or disc. That makes us nervous, but it is better than nothing. But remember, having a central backup system isn’t very helpful if it won’t capture information that you store off the servers that it backs up – like the data on your desktop’s hard drive.
Having an untested backup system is like having no backup. It must work. I know of more than one practice/firm that had a server failure and only then learned that their backup system wasn’t working. What’s more, having a great system that you never use is equally worthless.
An effective backup system should capture all data, maintain it in a secure location, do so seamlessly and automatically, and have its own built-in redundancies.
There are many vendors online who can tap into your servers and do backups for you. But recognize that you are giving someone the keys to your data, so make sure you use a reliable and trustworthy company. And, if you are storing data offsite and in the hands of a third party, you should be encrypting the data before it is uploaded. Many systems do this automatically. Backing up your data to a cloud-based location ensures greater safety, functionality, and security.
If you have embraced technology by incorporating your smartphone, tablets, laptops, and other devices into your practice, you need to make sure that you are backing up that data as well.
Syncing those devices to your others which have backups will do the trick or back them up directly and separately. Most mobile device providers provide automatic backup services.
Protecting your data is about more than backups. It also means protecting it from hackers and ransomware. Again, cloud-based storage systems offer the best protection.
They also prevent penetrations otherwise necessary to make your own servers accessible. Sure, you can have a “secure” server by preventing any outside entry, but that isn’t very useful and simply isn’t necessary. Preventing any outside entries means you can’t get in either. And if you do allow access through a firewall, the chances that yours will always be state-of-the-art is a fallacy.