Two-and-a-half years ago, I concluded a post with this bluster: “Listen, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and all the other companies collecting vast volumes of our data through intelligent agents, apps and social networking sites, you must afford us a ready means to see and repatriate our data. It’s not enough to let us grab snatches via an unwieldy […]
File sharing and online collaboration is the driving force of Dropbox. It does a stellar job in this area, but like all tools, remains subject to the human factor. What if you, your staff, or someone with whom you are sharing a Dropbox folder accidentally deletes a file? Most everyone has had this experience on their personal computer, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later in the cloud.
If more than 30 days have elapsed, you are out of luck unless you have a Dropbox Pro or Dropbox for Teams account. Both include Packrat which “captures unlimited snapshots of your files, allowing you to recover any file as far back in time as you like.” Dropbox Pro and Dropbox for Teams users may also be able to restore a file from the hidden cache on their computer. (Instructions are provided for Windows OS. Contact Dropbox if you are using a different system.) Dropbox recommends trying the restore steps described on their Help page first.)
1. Backup. I can’t say that enough times. See How to Backup Your Computer on the PLF Web site for a thorough discussion on the subject. Select Practice Aids and Forms > Technology.
2. Train. Make sure everyone you add to your Dropbox account understands how it works. I’m writing this post because my husband and I had a personal experience with a family member who mistakenly deleted some shared files. We successfully restored the files on the Dropbox Web site (and had a backups, just in case). The family member deleted files after she received an e-mail message warning her that her Dropbox folder was full. At the time our shared Dropbox folder was at about 50% capacity. She had one item in her personal Dropbox folder. Whether this was an error by Dropbox or malicious spam, we don’t know. After the family member deleted the Dropbox files she also deleted the e-mail.
3. Share thoughtfully as all users are not equal. However, if you follow the other two take-aways (backup and train) sharing is far less risky.
Copyright 2013 Beverly Michaelis
The October issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin contains a must-read article entitled The Data Dilemma: Law Firms Strive to Strengthen E-Security as Potential Threats Continue to Rise.
To understand why you should be concerned, read the article. To take steps now to protect your firm, read John Simek and Sharon Nelson’s sidebar, “E-Security Pros Offer 15 Tips to Help Law Firms Better Protect Sensitive Data” posted as a PDF on the OSB Web site. Among John and Sharon’s recommendations:
- Use unique passphrases for each Web site/account/software program (Passphrases are better than passwords)
- Properly encrypt laptops, flash drives, and backup media
- Physically lock up your server
- Properly vet all cloud service providers
- Secure Wi-Fi networks
- Wipe data with Darik’s Boot and Nuke if you donate/dispose of your computer, digital copier, or similar equipment
- Consider cyber insurance (Your Professional Liability Fund coverage does not protect against data loss).