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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Worry About Email? : The Importance Of Archiving

As more business is conducted electronically, companies are learning that email and other electronic communications such as text and instant messages are vital for record keeping. EchoStar Satellite, a designer, developer and distributor of television set-top boxes, faced a court-imposed sanction for destroying email evidence in a multi-billion dollar contract suit. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Piper Jaffray & Co. $700,000 for violations related to its failure to retain approximately 4.3 million emails from November 2002 through December 2008. A college student sued Norwalk Community College due to alleged harassment by a teacher. A computer forensics expert found evidence that the college had removed 500 emails from a key individual. The final settlement included a $765,000 fine to the college.

Although these may seem like extreme examples, they illustrate the importance of electronic records in litigation. According to a recent article published in the Duke Law Journal, electronic evidence has proven crucial in determining the outcome in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment, disputes over trade secrets, copyright infringement, and insider trading.

Whether your business is large or small, email retention and electronic record-keeping are issues you shouldn’t ignore. In addition to legal concerns, effective ERM (electronic records management) can help provide disaster recovery solutions and make your IT operations more efficient.

Legal Considerations
Certain types of business—such as health care, financial services, and government agencies and contractors—are required by law to retain documents, including electronic documents and email. Federal laws—such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure—along with state and local laws require businesses to create and maintain email retention policies for ERM purposes. The lack of an email retention
policy can result in prosecution and hefty fines.

But even if your company is not required by law to retain electronic correspondence, email is considered documentary evidence. Electronic discovery (aka ediscovery) refers to a process in which electronic data is sought, located, secured, and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a legal case. If your business is involved in litigation, the more documentary evidence you can produce to protect your business, the better. The ediscovery process is hampered if your electronic records are not easy to search or recover.

“All organizations have an obligation to preserve content, not just those in heavily regulated industries,” says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. “For example, the EEOC requires that personnel records be kept for one year—an employee’s vacation request to her manager sent through email constitutes such a record and so must be preserved.”

Disaster Recovery
For almost any size and type of business, email records hold a substantial amount of business transaction and other key information. For disaster recovery purposes, email should be backed up frequently and included in your disaster recovery plan.

Tying email retention systems to disaster recovery procedures can open the door to a single solution to solve both problems. Simply backing up the email server or requesting end users to make local backups of
their email is not ideal. Trying to recover and restore email from backup in the event of a disaster can be time
prohibitive, complicated, and challenging to get right, especially if users are creating their own backup of their personal emails

Storage And IT Efficiency
Backing up email files has become a real issue for many businesses. The increasing demands on storage have caused many businesses to institute policies that automatically remove emails after a certain number of days. Otherwise, employee email continues to collect and grow, requiring an everincreasing amount of backup and storage capacity.

One of the drawbacks of automated removal of older emails occurs when you find you need access to them. IT personnel must take the time to search for and recover the emails. In addition, if you know your emails are going to be automatically removed and difficult to recover, you may spend valuable time printing them or copying them to another application to retain them.

How Email Archiving Can Help
Email archiving solutions are one method that businesses choose to help manage email and other electronic records. An archive solution is different from a traditional backup solution in a number of ways. An archive system moves data from the email system to an archive, which is indexed and easily searchable. And, unlike a backup, an archive is directly accessible—a restore is not required.

Using an archive can enhance performance of an email system—it helps prevent it from getting bogged down in huge email files, while creating accessible records for compliance and non-compliance needs. It also makes email server backup faster and requires less storage. Because you can search, find, and recover your own emails if they are deleted accidentally or needed later, IT can have tighter email policies and retention limits.

Preserve Your Electronic Records
Business records, including your electronic records, should be retained for a variety of reasons—regulatory,
legal, disaster recovery, and efficient IT. “It is simply best practice to preserve business records,” says Osterman, “even if this content won’t be required in court or for a regulatory audit.” ▲

Barracuda Networks Barracuda Message Archiver 650 with 3yr Energize Updates

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