Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the first email, but the technology isn’t showing its age. Although other communication tools have come and gone, email remains the most common business communication tool, with more than 300 billion messages sent and received every day.
It’s far more than just a messaging medium, however. For many organizations, it is also their single largest repository of sensitive business information, such as invoices, contracts and customer contacts. Studies suggest that as much as 75 percent of a typical company’s intellectual property is contained within its email system.
It’s obviously important to protect that information, but keeping all those emails along with their attachments can overwhelm storage systems. According to one survey, nearly 80 percent of businesses consider email storage bloat to be a problem.
Email archiving solutions offer an elegant solution. Whether located on-premises or in the cloud, archiving allows organizations to securely store, retain, index, search and retrieve essential email content without placing a burden on the storage infrastructure.
Archival is often confused with backup, but they aren’t the same. Backups provide a hedge against disaster by creating a snapshot of everything in your email database at a given point in time. However, this process doesn’t organize or index the information, which means it can be incredibly difficult to find specific records. Archiving captures, indexes and secures each record individually, enabling fast search and retrieve operations.
Archiving is increasingly critical for compliance with multiple government and industry regulations that require long-term retention of emails with the ability to find and produce records on demand. Those features are also important for businesses that become involved in litigation and must produce emails as part of the e-discovery process.
There are other business benefits as well. Emails can be encrypted and archived in a tamper-proof repository to minimize the risk of a breach. Archiving also supports business continuity by ensuring critical emails and information can be accessed in the event of a server crash or some other type of outage.
Email archival can benefit any business, but these five sectors are beginning to make email archiving a priority:
Legal. Attorneys and their clients conduct a significant amount of communication via emails, many of which contain information relevant for litigation. As such, they are subject to a variety of regulations designed to ensure the confidentiality of those communications while also protecting evidence. An email archive solution ensures regulatory compliance, provides long-term data retention and creates an audit trail.
Healthcare. Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations must ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of protected health information. Email archiving is not specifically required by HIPAA, but encryption and tamper-proof repositories help protect privacy. Archives also make it easy to meet HIPAA requirements to retain electronic records for a minimum of six years.
Education. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are among the regulations governing the retention, storage and accessibility of emails by educational institutions. Archiving solutions help schools meet federal mandates for data retention. They also give schools a great deal of oversight and control over emails containing sensitive information about students.
Nonprofits. In the event of litigation, audit or investigation, organizations may need to provide emails and other electronic records that demonstrate they are meeting all requirements for nonprofit status. Archiving also allows nonprofits to comply with federal laws requiring the indefinite retention of certain types of records.
Financial services. Financial services firms frequently use email to discuss investments, stock prices and securities transactions with their clients. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires firms to preserve and manage these emails in systems featuring automated record retention, record indexing with time and date stamps, immutable retention and record preservation for three years or more.
The need for email archiving and management solutions continues to grow and regulatory compliance will continue to expand; if your organization is faced with this challenge and would like to learn more about how an MSP like SSD Technology Partners can help give us a call, we are happy to help.