The Downsides of SaaS

I beleive that Software as a Service is a growth industry in the legal field and that, as programs get more complicated and more expensive, more people will be moving to a SaaS model for at least some of their software needs.

A recent problem with Google Docs, however, highlights one of the potential problems with SaaS solutions: your documents are the in hands of someone else. ZD Net reported that Google admitted that .05% of its Google documents that were supposed to be private were treated as public.

Now, I have not heard any horror stories about how confidential information was exposed during this incident. However, this incident does highlight the fact that when choosing a SaaS provider or when choosing to place any of your documents in a remote location (typically over the internet), investigate your provider to make sure that they are taking adequate measures to protect your information and keep it confidential and to ensure that if something does happen, that they will act promptly to correct the problem.

Laptop Bags

According to statistics released earlier this year, travelers lose more than 600,000 laptops a year at the largest and medium sized airports in the country. At the 36 largest airports, more than 10,000 laptops are last a per week.

This means that you need to pay close attention to your laptop when traveling through the airport and especially when going through security. One of the (many) things I hate about going through airport security is the fact that they make you take your laptop out of its case. I think that this just makes it easier for someone else to snatach your laptop.

A solution to this problem is to fly with with a checkpoint friendly laptop bag. If you travel a lot, you might want to look at this list of checkpoint friendly laptop bags. Anything you can do to make your trip through the airport faster and more secure is something you might want to consider.

A Great USB Drive

Of course, there is no substitution for encryption to ensure that your information remains secure. However, you can add additional layers of protection by making your data difficult to find or recognize. To this end, ThinkGeek has a great product that they call the Hacked And Frayed Spy Flash Drive. The device is described as a “2GB flash drive cleverly disguised as a frayed and broken USB cable.”

Bruce Schneier notes:

This is a 2 Gig USB drive disguised as a piece of frayed cable. You’ll still want to encrypt it, of course, but it is likely to be missed if your bags are searched at customs, the police raid your house, or you lose it.

The comments on Schneier’s post raise a question I had, namely whether it would be better to have a complete cable rather than a frayed cable.

If you want to make your own cable, check out this post from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Keeping Your Notebook Safe

Chris Pirillo provides 10 Tips to Keep Your Notebook Safe When Traveling. My two favorites are:

    Keep It On You: It is not uncommon for someone to set their luggage down while standing in line for a muffin, or to sit down while waiting for a flight. With all luggage, it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure nobody tampers with it or steals it. Because of their size and value though, laptops make prime targets and a thief can snatch the laptop bag and keep walking while you are unaware with your back turned. You should keep the laptop bag on your shoulder or keep it in sight at all times.

    Back Up Data: Perform a backup of all critical or sensitive data before departing. Just in case your laptop does become damaged or lost, you don’t want to also lose your important files and information. You can buy a new laptop, but it is much harder to replace lost data.

      Go here to read all of the tips.

      Hat tip to Futurelawyer for pointing out this post to me.

      Safely Using Wi-Fi

      The Consumerist has a great post titled The Idiot-Proof Way to Securely Use Public Wi-Fi. The article discusses a variety of VPN solutions to protect your privacy when you are using a public wi-fi connection. I have a VPN through my work. Thus I have not tried any of the listed programs. However, because I am a fan of open source software, I was intrigued with the discussion of OpenVPN. If you want to check it out, it can be found here.

      Be Careful While Working and Talking on the Telephone

      Last week I was reviewing a tract search from a title company. When I called the title company to ask about a couple of questions that I had on the search, the person I spoke with explained that it would take her a few minutes to get the information that she needed because she was working at someone else’s desk at the moment.

      This was not a big deal from my perspective. However, I quickly realized that this woman narrated her work. It was a constant stream of consciousness narration of what programs she was selecting, what she was looking for, and where she should click her mouse. Although this was mildly annoying, I did not think much about it until the woman logged on to one of her company’s databases and proceeded to recite her password while entering it.

      Fortunately for her, I had no malicious intent or desire to use her password. However, she did not know that.

      Based upon this experience, I would suggest that if you talk to yourself, be careful and make sure that you do not say your passwords out loud. You never know who could be listening.