The rapid growth of digital devices and services offers businesses expanding opportunities for growth and innovation, but it also opens up an array of new enterprise security risks.
One area of increasing concern for organizations is figuring out the best way to securely and cost-efficiently archive business email.
Many of the every-day operational details of a business are communicated through email including policy decisions, research findings, financial data, and market strategy. In addition to the risks associated with the potential loss of confidential data and intellectual property, organizations across industry sectors must adhere to increasingly strict rules related to email archiving and record retention. These regulations often require businesses to collect, manage, monitor, and retrieve email records and other data on demand.
With more sophisticated security risks and a growing threat landscape, the issue of how to safely and effectively archive business email is more critical than ever. While email files and records have traditionally been stored on magnetic tape and other low-cost media, the cloud has become an increasingly popular option for email archiving due to its economies of scale, security features, and efficient backup capabilities.
Building a framework for effective recovery
Determining the best email archiving approach begins with a detailed assessment of your IT environment and overall security and compliance requirements.
- What is the volume of email generated on a daily basis?
- Is this expected to change in the future?
- What is your current method of storage and is it secure and sustainable?
- What are the protocols for data access?
This insight will provide the framework for defining your archiving requirements and designing a solution that strikes an optimum balance between data control, security, and access flexibility. It will also help determine existing capabilities, backup strategies, and business continuity requirements, putting you in a better position to prioritize your asset protection and data recovery needs.
From a user-level perspective, your archiving system should be intuitive and straightforward, with user-friendly functionality that aligns with organizational workflows and enhances productivity. Search performance capabilities should be quick and precise without regard to how rapidly the archive expands and grows.
From an organizational standpoint, the system should support IT, along with legal and compliance teams in minimizing the expense and reducing the complexity of monitoring and managing expanding email volumes.
Balancing Security and Efficiency in Emails
While businesses in regulated markets such as finance and healthcare must meet specific email retention and recovery requirements, your business needs to consider its own email archiving and retrieval policies.
The inability to produce an email trail when needed (such as evidence in a legal matter) could result in severe fines, court sanctions, and loss of credibility.
Within the realm of cloud-based email archiving options, there is a wide range of solutions available.
Some of the key features that can help optimize email data security include:
- the ability to produce tamper-evident audit trails
- the immediate copying of data as it enters and exits the mail server
- a mechanism for delegating permission tiers so that not everybody has access to business-critical archived email data
Compared to many outdated on-premises systems, cloud-based email archiving is often less costly, more reliable, and easier to manage. For organizations with aging email archiving systems and extensive volumes of archived data to manage, a hybrid model offers an attractive option.
Whatever solution you choose, be careful not to get caught in the trap of sacrificing security for efficiency.
Mitigating Risks With the Right Safeguards
To verify the chain of custody process and preserve every message your organization might need, your email archiving system should be failsafe. Any gaps or weaknesses in the security of your archived data can drastically increase your organization’s compliance risk. Following are some best practice measures to consider in planning the best email archiving solution for your business.
1. Data Security
To ensure optimum security, all data that exits the archive environment should be encrypted. Ideally, you want to consider a system that safeguards data in motion and at rest within the cloud environment. Your encryption key should be maintained in your sole possession—and not be disclosed to the cloud provider. This helps ensure you retain complete control over access privileges of archives data. A fully tamper-proof email archive will help ensure your business maintains compliance with data retention requirements.
Regulatory requirements continue to evolve, so it’s critical that your archiving solution is adaptable enough to accommodate shifting storage needs. Keep in mind that archiving is not just for emails. Financial documents, employee records, h, and other files contain a wealth of confidential information. For best results and optimum return, consider a solution that can archive other electronic content in addition to emails, such as PDF files, instant messages, social media, and texts.
Multiple points of potential failure and lax access policies can increase your compliance risk. Your archiving solution should be able to quickly and effectively handle e-discovery requests and validate the accuracy of your records when inquiries are made. With tamper-evident audit trails, administrators can more easily monitor and track access to archived data and identify irregular changes and abnormal or client-specific actions. This capability can assist in the case of a compliance audit by demonstrating that your organization is taking necessary precautions to help ensure the accuracy and integrity of email data and disclosure procedures.
Your email archiving system should leverage the efficiency capabilities in today’s advanced data compression technologies like deduplication, which accelerates search and retrieval processes without putting the archive’s integrity at risk. With fewer data to review and process, search engines are more efficient and easier to navigate.
5. Ease of Use
With the right mail archiving solution, all enterprise email is stored securely in a tamper-proof system and quickly and easily accessible. End users should all be able to use the system without needing assistance from the IT department. This helps your company streamline its ability to find critical internal data, defend itself in a legal case, or simply demonstrate compliance with industry regulations.
6. Reliable Recovery
With the increasingly hybrid nature of today’s IT environments, your email and data recovery approach should include both virtual and physical assets and clearly define your speed of recovery requirements. Should you suffer a data breach or data loss, you need to have confidence in your recovery plan to know exactly how long it will take for the business to be back online―with systems restored and critical email data intact.
Reaping the Benefits of Smart Planning
Email archiving is a critical business need and an important defensive tool and safety precaution against potential compliance or legal or repercussions. As such, it should be given the strategic priority it deserves. While no single strategy can cover all scenarios, implementing the right infrastructure and the proper safeguards upfront puts you in a better position to respond quickly and effectively should a disaster strike.
Implementing a cost-efficient and secure email archiving solution can be demanding and time-intensive, but when designed correctly, the investment can pay dividends far beyond the initial effort.