Feeds

Are you storing up email trouble?

Good archiving is good business

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

There is endless talk from some vendors in the IT community about the dangers posed by a whole raft of new regulations introduced by governments and other regulatory bodies in recent years. Businesses are rightly sceptical about some of the messaging coming from vendors, many having fallen, not so long ago, for the Y2K and other scare stories.

Vendors taking this approach could end up looking naïve if they continue with this line of messaging. Managers are not unconcerned about these regulations, but they are only part of a long list of things they have to worry about, which includes brand name protection, customer confidence, employee productivity and competitiveness. Consideration of all these issues will be reflected in the way they govern their businesses and this will influence their IT purchases.

One of the issues that concerns businesses most when it comes to corporate governance is email. Email is by far the most widely used business communications tool, constituting over 60 per cent of both internal and external communications. Some IT managers now estimate that email forms half of all the data that they store and most say it has been increasing rapidly and will continue to do so.

Used well, email can be an efficient communications tool and an important part of the processes that support a business. It is the only truly threaded means of communication, whereby the record of what was said, by whom, to who, when and who else knew about, is maintained. As well as maintaining a detailed record of business communications it is also a lawyer's dream; whether in attack or defence, email is increasingly important in the initiation and resolution of disputes with customers, suppliers and employees.

In the past IT departments have usually limited the amount of email storage allocated to employees quite severely. With the ever-plummeting cost per megabyte of storage media, there is no need to be so stringent. Of course this laxity cannot go completely unchecked. There is no point in storing irrelevant or unwanted email and email records can only help with good governance of businesses, if when it comes to the crunch, relevant material can be easily located and retrieved.

There are two basic steps required to achieve good email management. The first is to cut out junk and other email irrelevant to the business using email filtering software. Many organisations are already doing this - although effectiveness can always be improved. But filtering software is not designed to make the subtle decisions about what email should be kept in order to protect the business against future threats.

The only way to assure future safety is to store all email that is not stopped by filters; however, you do not need to store it for ever. Effective email archiving tools allow rules to be put in place that reflect the requirements of the regulators, the wishes of the business and plain common sense. For example: By default all email shall be kept for three years but for employees of certain departments (e.g. legal) it can be kept for longer; emails with words like "confidential" or "quotation" in their title can also be kept for longer, whist those that contain large attachments of the type ".pdf" or ".ppt" can be kept for less time.

Good archiving means that rules can be put in place and adjusted through time to reflect the way the business is governed, in response to a wide range of factors including those imposed by regulators.

The danger email poses to businesses should not be under-estimated. Whilst a weighty report is likely to have undergone intensive internal review before distribution, an email might get the once-over from a spell checker. The number of times email is playing a role in resolving business and legal disputes is ever increasing and you can be sure that if you cannot find relevant copies of the emails sent and received by your employees, someone else will. Best to be prepared than caught unawares.

Quocirca's report Email and Corporate Governance is available free to Reg readers at www.quocirca.com/report_email_corpgov.htm.

Copyright © 2005,

Related stories

The intelligent data storage imperative
Google's Gmail grows again
Yahoo! does a Google

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.