Richards & Richards Blog

Cloud or Tape: What’s the Best Solution for your Business Data?

In today’s world where the majority of your data is digital, a single data loss incident can have a widespread effect on your business. Whether it’s accidental deletion of a critical client file, an unexpected crash of your server, an extended business interruption due to bad weather conditions or a natural disaster, you have to be prepared for a wide range of circumstances that can limit access to your information. Backup is a non-negotiable. However, with an increasing number of vendors competing for your data protection business, it can be confusing selecting the right backup solution.

Accessibility

More individuals and businesses are operating within the cloud, using online applications instead of software, and opting to store personal information on remote servers that make data accessible from any remote location. In doing so, there are often unrealistic expectations that are assumed:

  • Data will always be available
  • Data access will always be swift


These assumptions were put to the test during Hurricane Sandy when extended regional power outages made access to online data slow or impossible. Disaster preparedness is an important consideration for any business, and the ability to restore data in a timely manner has a direct impact on your organization’s recovery capabilities.

Having an offline backup solution makes you less vulnerable to outages affecting your cloud service provider. The combination of a generator to help you maintain power and a backup tape securely stored offsite can help your company keep going during a catastrophic event and minimize business interruptions.

Affordability

Cost is another consideration that needs to be factored in when choosing a potential cloud backup solution. As most cloud service providers claim, cloud backup is easily implementable. Yet, you may unwittingly be locking your company into an agreement with a provider that offers less-than-optimal customer service. And then there is the cost of scalability. As your business grows and its backup requirements increase, your company may not be able to afford incremental jumps in pricing.

Offline backup offers a more economical data storage solution. Large amounts of data can be stored on a single backup tape—1.5 TB of storage capacity can be purchased for around $30—making data protection with an offline solution more affordable than using a cloud storage service. Offline data recovery is also faster as it is not dependent on internet bandwidth, which can greatly increase your disaster recovery capabilities.

Privacy Protection

You’re responsible for the privacy protection of your clients and employees. Regulations such as HIPAA, FACTA, SOX and GLB may directly impact your business. Ultimately, choosing any service provider is an extension of that responsibility, however a cloud backup vendor may be more at risk for privacy breaches. In recent years, prominent cloud service providers such as Amazon and Dropbox have fallen victim to security breaches compromising client data. Given the volume of confidential information these vendors manage, it’s easy to see why they’ve become desirable targets for data theft. Backup to tape and/or hard drive is not susceptible to threats of cyber attacks, hacking and malware. When stored offsite in a media vault where they can be thoroughly protected and preserved, your backup media assets can help maintain the privacy of your data and keep your organization compliant.

Richards & Richards’ provides businesses throughout Nashville with offsite data protection solutions. For more information please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

Protecting the Value of your Business Data and More: Why Going Offsite is Critical

It may be hard to quantify the value of your business data, but consider this: One single backup tape or hard drive may hold a wealth of personal information that would certainly fetch a high price on the black market. In the same manner, a single hard drive or tape can contain the essential information your business needs to quickly recover from a catastrophic data loss event. Given the increasing amount of data that can be stored on a single electronic media device—Sony recently developed a backup tape with the capacity to hold 185 TB of data—your business information may be worth more than its weight in gold. As a result, it’s important that you go the extra mile to protect your data.

Assessing vulnerabilities

Your electronic media is also one of your most vulnerable assets. Theft of tapes and hard drives has become more commonplace, making it all the more important to have a plan in place for ensuring their security as soon as a backup has been completed. Unfortunately, in the business world, internal chain of custody procedures for media assets is severely lacking and weak data protection practices are rampant. Backup media is often left on desktops in unsecured office areas. Many companies ask employees to take tapes or hard drives containing vital business data home with them, which is also a risky practice. Organizations may choose to store backup media in a bank safe deposit box, but even that offers only limited access to vital information in the event of a data loss scenario. Lose your data after hours or during a bank holiday, when safe deposit boxes are inaccessible, and your business is out of luck.

Magnetic media is also very susceptible to degradation from environmental variables such as:

  • excessive humidity
  • temperature fluctuations
  • dust and light pollution


If not stored in an environmentally controlled facility, the archival data written to tapes or hard drives is likely to be lost to degradation over time.

Implementing the right offsite solution

Disaster recovery archives recommend that any electronic information critical to your business be stored offsite in order to ensure strong recovery capabilities. In addition to maximizing recovery time objectives (RTOs), a sound offsite data storage solution can also ensure compliance with the following regulations:

  • HIPAA/HITECH
  • FACTA
  • SOX
  • GLB


However, before going offsite it’s important that you fully assess the facility where your backup media will be stored. Important factors to consider include:

A dedicated media vault facility offers the highest level of protection for backup tapes and hard drives. In addition to providing an environment that maximizes the lifespan of your media assets, it also limits the risk of data loss to natural disaster and theft. The data protection company managing your offsite inventory should also practice strict chain of custody procedures and exhibit the highest standards in their privacy protection measures. After all, not only do you need peace of mind knowing your data is safe and secure, but you also need assurance that you can restore vital information at a moment’s notice.

Richards & Richards provides companies throughout Nashville with data protection solutions. For more information please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

RICHARDS & RICHARDS WINS BBB TORCH AWARD

NASHVILLE – (May 30, 2014) Nashville records and information management company Richards & Richards has been named a Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee Torch Award winner for 2014.

The Torch Award is presented to businesses who exemplify ethical commerce. Richards & Richards won in the medium-sized business category. There were more than 250 Torch Award applicants this year.

“We’ve been in business for almost 30 years and have won lots of awards,” said Richards & Richards President & CEO Steve Richards. “But the Torch Award, which honors our company and its employees for their leadership in business ethics, makes me especially proud because of what it represents.”

The Torch Award news comes on the heels of Richards & Richards’s announcement that they have installed a new, FireLock DataVault for the management and storage of computer backup tape and highly sensitive magnetic media.

“The Torch Award is given to companies that have earned the trust of their customers, and in our business that means we are trusted to keep records safe and secure,” said Richards. “The Data Vault helps us deliver on that promise.”

Ensuring HIPAA Compliance for Your Medical Practice

With the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) systems, a changing health insurance landscape, and rapid technological advances, it seems that no other industry that is undergoing as much change as the healthcare industry. As mandated compliance to the HIPAA final omnibus rule—which went into effect in September 2013, strengthening provider requirements for ensuring patient privacy protections—and healthcare providers have a lot to think about.

The evolving HIPAA landscape is also reflective of—and a direct response to—the countless privacy breach threats the healthcare industry faces. Hospitals, institutions and small practices are increasingly targeted for the acquisition of confidential patient information. Providers who do not adequately protect patient health information (PHI) not only risk damage to their reputation and face civil lawsuits, but also run afoul of increasing scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Recently, the OCR handed out a record-breaking $4.8 million HIPAA fine to New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center for failure to protect PHI. This should serve as a cautionary tale, not only for large healthcare institutions but also for doctors and practitioners with smaller practices.

HIPAA compliance doesn’t necessarily mean having to invest in costly electronic systems; often it comes down to basic, common sense methods for maintaining continuous privacy for your patients’ health information. While the pilfering of electronic health information through hacking and cyber-attacks is certainly on the rise, breaches of hardcopy information are still common.

For example, in another recent occurrence, a complaint was filed against a large drugstore chain for alleged HIPAA violations, including accusations of PHI being left unattended on desks and in public areas. While the OCR did not find widespread or systematic non-compliance, individual instances were noted and suggestions were made for ensuring safeguards, one of which was enhanced staff training.

Protecting patient privacy

These troublesome violations highlight the need for ongoing HIPAA training of the doctors, practitioners and administrative staff within your practice. All employees should understand privacy and security policies and associated consequences of a violation. Policies for the handling of PHI should also be made clear. Procedures for storing, accessing and disposing of medical records and business documents should also be clearly outlined.

Patient information should never be left in plain view for others to see. On-site file rooms should be locked and access to records highly regulated. Inactive files should be transferred off-site to a secure records center where they can be protected and managed for the duration of their retention life cycle.

Records and other paperwork should promptly be disposed of. A secure NAID AAA certified shredding service eliminates expired records being left on desktops or workstations where they run the risk of being compromised. Shred collection containers can be strategically placed within your practice, enabling documents and files to be quickly and securely disposed of and shredded in accordance with HIPAA standards.

Richards & Richards provides healthcare providers throughout the Nashville area with comprehensive records and information management solutions. For more information please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

How Shredding Practices Have an Impact on Your Business Fraud Vulnerability

Information seems to be under siege these days, and paper documents are just as vulnerable as electronic records. While regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) were enacted in an attempt to provide legal requirements for disposing of confidential information, negligent document disposal practices within organizations of all types as still run rampant—as evidenced by increasing rates of fraud. Refining your current paper shredding processes can help reduce the risk of fraud within your business.

Scheduled shredding increases productivity and reduces privacy breach risk

Paper shredding machines seem indispensable until you assess how much they cost your business in wasted time and lost productivity. Shredding an entire file folder full of paper can take several minutes or longer if a paper jam rears its ugly head. Because of the time commitment, your employees may procrastinate shredding sensitive documents or avoid the process altogether, which could result in confidential files being permanently left in workstations or ending up in the trash.

A scheduled shred service places secure shred bins in your office where whole files can be disposed of in seconds. Because the process is so easy and convenient, your staff is more likely to use these secure bins to dispose of sensitive documents in a timely manner, thereby reducing the likelihood of a privacy breach. Your document shredding company should accurately assess your disposal requirements and tailor your shred collection container size and destruction schedule to your business needs.

Periodic file purging is good records management policy

Holding on to information longer than legally necessary also increases privacy breach exposure for your company. Documents that have outlived required retention periods may sit idle for years. Because they are no longer utilized, they can easily go missing—undetected—and cause a great deal of legal liability and non-compliance problems. As a result, it’s important to schedule periodic purges of no-longer-needed files.

Why NAID AAA Certified destruction matters

When entrusting the disposal of your business documents to a third party, it’s important to have confidence that the company you choose is utilizing processes and procedures that reduce the risk of confidential information exposure. A NAID (National Association of Information Destruction) AAA Certified document shredding company has undergone an extensive audit, assessing employee screening procedures, security measures, destruction processes, and the equipment used to destroy your information. You even have the ability to verify certification directly with NAID.

In reality, there isn’t a “silver bullet” solution for preventing theft of personal and corporate information—the threat will always be out there. However, implementing a professional document shredding solution can significantly reduce the risk to your business.

Richards & Richards provides document shredding solutions to businesses throughout Nashville. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

Protecting Your Electronic Data so Your Business can Recover from a Disaster

More and more of your data exists electronically—you carry it around on your phone and store it on your laptop. In many ways it’s made running an organization much easier. Information can be easily accessed without having to rifle through file cabinets, and can also be shared with any colleague or client, no matter where they’re working from. At any given time, however, your electronic data can become very vulnerable, due to a number of potential threats:

  • mismanagement
  • hardware and software failures
  • viruses and malware
  • cyber attacks
  • theft and network breaches

As a result, it’s imperative to regularly backup your information. Protection of your electronic data, however, doesn’t stop there.

Backup is just a portion of a full data protection plan

More companies are now focusing on thwarting malicious attacks on their sensitive data. While it often involves a cat-and-mouse approach, highly publicized data breaches have provided expanded impetus and technological solutions for protecting electronic data. Yet within this reality, the prevention of other risks can have a tendency to fall by the wayside. Simply put, less invasive yet equally insidious threats can also compromise your electronic data. Which is why, what you do after backup could mean the difference between growing your business well into the future and simply going out of business.

The media storing your electronic data needs to be safeguarded

The data stored on magnetic media is very sensitive, meaning that small changes in temperature and humidity can permanently damage backup tapes and hard drives. Magnetic interference is also a factor as backup media can become degaussed from outside forces, rendering them completely useless. The typical office environment—and often the server rooms where backups are performed—does not offer an environment that prevents these risks, severely impacting business continuity objectives. Further, backup data left onsite is also exposed to any number of catastrophic scenarios including fire, flooding and natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados.

As a result, any backup media should be stored in a vault facility designed and dedicated for the preservation and protection of electronic data. When choosing such a facility, look for the following features:

  • magnetic shielding
  • tornado and earthquake survivability
  • fire protection that meets NFPA 75 and NFPA 232 standards for magnetic media
  • media-friendly fire suppression
  • environmental control sensors
  • 24-hour surveillance and access monitoring

Not only should your backup media be stored offsite in an appropriate location, it should also be regularly rotated in a manner that ensures that all electronic data is up to date. While the frequency of your rotation will depend on your electronic data storage and retrieval needs, it’s important to transport all media offsite with strict chain of custody protocols and the proper handling procedures. Your data protection partner should employ only screened, trained professionals for rotating your electronic data and also offer the following:

  • delivery vehicles with temperature controls and GPS tracking
  • transportation of media in containers specifically made for the protection tapes and hard drives
  • an auditable record of each point of contact, time of contact and signed receipts

If your media is rotated in a timely and proper manner, your business has a better chance of recovering from a disaster.

Richards & Richards provides data protection solutions to businesses throughout Nashville. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

If a Thief Doesn’t Get your Data, These Things Surely Will

There is never an upside to identity theft, but if there were, it would be an increased awareness of the importance of protecting business data from unauthorized access. In the wake of the Target breach, companies are taking more precautionary measures to prevent their information from falling into the wrong hands. Yet to focus only on the criminal is short sighted; there are a number of other threats to your data that can have a lasting effect on your business.

Mistakes, negligence, and Mother Nature

Unintentional file loss—endemic to organizations constantly accessing and sharing information—is even more likely than malicious intent. Accidents are bound to happen at one time or another, especially when all it takes is an unintentional strike on the “delete” key. Yet, human error isn’t the only contributor to data loss:

  • faulty hardware and/or software
  • power surges
  • weather events or other natural disasters

If backup data is created on a scheduled basis and proper post backup procedures are in place, files can quickly be restored and downtime minimized.

If the same diligence given to creating backups was also focused on protecting the media assets to which data is transferred and stored, more companies would be able to easily bounce back from catastrophic data loss. Frequently, media assets remain at the exact location where the initial backup took place, exposing them to damage from fire and other natural disasters as well as degradation from environmental factors. Often, this is due to a misguided desire for “convenient” access to backup data. However, it frequently results in greater mismanagement of backup inventory and exposure to environmental factors that have a direct impact on the integrity of media storage devices:

  • temperature and humidity fluctuations
  • dust and light pollution
  • magnetic interference

How professional data protection prevents data loss and facilitates recovery

A professional data protection solution mitigates these factors by offering a dedicated vault for the storage of magnetic media containing vital and sensitive business data. Here, all backup data can be protected against fire and water damage and other negative environmental factors. Additionally, it ensures long-term preservation capabilities in accordance with internal and/or regulatory and legal information retention guidelines. Media can be professionally rotated in a timely manner prior to backup and tracked with an information management database which provides an auditable and searchable record of each tape stored offsite.

Verify, verify, verify

Never assume that all of your backup information has been transferred and stored correctly. You don’t want to be in an emergency data loss situation with an inability to restore critical files. It’s important to verify that all information has been successfully transferred and written to your data storage media. Most data recovery experts recommend disaster recovery testing at a minimum of every six months. Your media vaulting and rotation partner can be a tremendous resource in helping you determine your recovery time objectives (RTOs).

Richards & Richards provides businesses throughout the Nashville area with comprehensive data protection solutions. For more information please contact us by phone or fill in the form on this page.

Richards & Richards To Manage Midstate’s First Fireproof Storage Vault

NASHVILLE – (April 4, 2014) Richards & Richards today announced it has completed installation of its new FireLock DataVault, a fireproof storage facility for companies and individuals who need the highest possible level of protection for computer back-up tape, magnetic media and other sensitive items.

“Our customers expect peace of mind and trust that their most important assets are safe,” said Steve Richards, Richards & Richards’ CEO. “As a company that has been through a disaster, we are all too familiar with the destruction caused by heat and other elements.”

“This is just one of a small number of vaults of this caliber in the Southeast and the only one in Nashville. We felt it was important that Nashville have this type of resource, especially in light of the data storage needs connected with so many growing technology companies, the music business and other industries with a large technological presence,” Richards said. “This vault protects not only from fire, but from wind, water and even dust. It’s the same vault system used by the U.S. Department of Defense to protect mission-critical server centers.”

The FireLock DataVault, which was built inside Richards & Richards’ high-security Elm Hill Pike location, is constructed from ceramic fiber walls designed to protect media from heat.  This is a Firelock Class 125 media rated facility, Zone 4 seismic rated, data protection facility.  A Faraday steel cage provides complete magnetic shielding for all DataVault contents and will protect magnetic media from any outside magnetic force including an EMP blast.  It is the only DataVault in Middle Tennessee that meets NFPA 75 and NFPA 232 standards for magnetic media.  The vault’s design allows for expansion and contraction under high-heat conditions, rather than buckling.

“Storing in the DataVault is affordable and incredibly secure,” Richards said. “We still have some slots available for those who will need them.”

About Richards & Richards:

For more than 25 years, Richards & Richards has provided the highest level of professional records and information management services throughout Middle Tennessee. Focusing on traditional records management services, Richards & Richards offers records storage, data protection, paper shredding, tape and media destruction, computer hard drive destruction, e-vaulting, scanning services and litigation support.

With more than 1,900 clients storing their records in its 251,000-square-foot records center, Richards & Richards is the oldest and largest single-market, independently owned and operated records management company in Tennessee.

Contact for media inquiries:

Leigh Lindsey

615-259-4000

llindsey@mpf.com

What is Litigation Support?

As the use of digital files takes hold within law firms, litigation support is increasingly associated with e-discovery processes. Since case information still exists in hardcopy format, though, litigation support functions must include the preparation and management of paper trial documents. However, in-house document production can quickly consume administrative resources. Ensuring that hardcopy records are produced in a timely and accurate manner means providing proper resources and solutions to your legal secretary and paralegal staff throughout the litigation process.

Ensuring appellate briefs are accurate and meet compliance deadlines

The filing of appellate briefs is a deadline-driven, paper-based process. And compliance with court requirements means completing procedural and technical items correctly and on time. Since a single file is comprised of thousands of pages, documentation must be processed quickly without sacrificing accuracy. Outsourcing your appellate brief processing and filing obligations ensures that every file page is checked with professional quality control standards, is error-free, and meets all compliance deadlines while enabling support staff to focus on additional administrative tasks vital to your firm.

Copying and file preparation

Success at a deposition, trial or during arbitration is highly dependent on how evidentiary documents, discovery documents, and trial records are presented. High-quality file reproductions must be produced within a short time period. Therefore, it’s important to have a reliable resource that can ensure the presentation materials meet the highest quality standards and support your case. You’ll want to take into consideration the capabilities of your legal copying vendor in order to ensure a solution for a wide range of litigation support functions your firm may need, including:

  • Scanning in black and white as well as color
  • Copying and binding of litigation records
  • Preparation, copying and tabbing of trial notebooks
  • Trial mount design and production
  • Duplication of CDs and DVDs


Digitization of paper litigation documents

Supporting your legal secretaries and paralegals is all about making sure that they are able to use their litigation support time efficiently and effectively. Digitizing paper records streamlines the case management process for both small-scale and large-scale litigation. A professional legal document scanning company can provide a turnkey solution for converting paper litigation files to electronic files which are then managed within a case management system. This allows for litigation files to be imaged in a variety of output formats in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to do digitize documents within your firm, and also provides wide-ranging functionality. Strict image quality assurance processes—handled by screened, professional imaging technicians—ensure high-quality and quick turnarounds to meet trial requirements:

  • OCR (Optical character recognition)
  • Electronic Bates Labels and Endorsements
  • Oversize scanning
  • Indexing of files


Additionally, by imaging paper litigation documents, the resources and time needed to retrieve, access and share case and discovery files can also be significantly reduced.

Records and Information Management: Making Litigation Processes Easier

It’s so important to have the right systems in place to enable efficient, ongoing management of your case data. Through the outsourcing of records and information management, your firm can enhance its capabilities in the most cost-effective manner.

Offsite document storage

The storage of case files and legal records can often get costly for companies, especially when done in-house. Improperly managed files can also hinder the support of ligation processes. Another concern is the inability to provide thorough disaster recovery to ensure that documents and files are protected from a range of threats. Professional records storage enables your legal records to be properly indexed, stored, tracked and managed for reliable and seamless access.

Document scanning

Digitizing your legal documents enables you to focus on cases and simultaneously reduce the amount of clerical work needed to do so. Electronic files can also be more easily shared than paper documents. Additionally, converting your legal records to a digital format allows for a reduction of the current overhead and administrative costs associated with managing a paper-dependent firm.

If your documents are already stored offsite in a records center, a scan on demand solution enables any files to be converted and securely delivered electronically. This can be especially advantageous for supporting time-sensitive litigation support requests. A full-service records and information management company can offer your firm a document scanning solution.

Data storage

Proper data protection also prepares your company for discovery requests. Because your company’s records retention inventory also includes electronic documents, it’s important first to properly preserve this data and then have the ability to quickly locate and retrieve it in support of litigation processes. Digital data stored on backup media should be stored offsite in an environment that fosters long-term preservation and protection.

A professionally managed media vault offers a repository for safeguarding your electronic data. In addition to providing a climate-controlled environment specific to the preservation of magnetic and optical media, it also offers the following systems to ensure continuous protection of your firm’s data:

  • redundant backup power
  • video surveillance and access control
  • NFPA standard fire protection
  • magnetic shielding
  • waterless fire suppression
  • wind, flooding, and earthquake protection

While stored within a media vault, your electronic data is also tracked with barcode and inventory management technology, allowing for swift retrieval of legal information at any time to support litigation procedures.

Richards & Richards’ records and information management services provide law firms throughout Nashville with a solution for meeting their litigation support needs.

For more information, please contact us by phone or fill in the form on this page.

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1741 Elm Hill Pike Nashville, TN 37210-5717