eDiscovery Custom Roles: Augmenting compliance with role-based access control

Data is one of the most valuable assets of an organization today. Despite the growth of social media and mobile communication, much of this data is still transmitted—both internally and externally—through email. With the proliferation of hybrid workplaces, data that has the potential to offer deep insights into your business' opportunities and risks is no longer locked within the confines of an office. To ensure all business-critical data across the organization is discoverable, secure, and compliant, you need to have a sound data governance approach in place.

"Data is evidence and must be discoverable by the right people at the right time."

To achieve this, it's important to store relevant data in an efficient and discoverable manner. This will help your legal teams to find a specific piece of information amid millions of data points quickly. Additionally, in the event of litigation, this could make a significant difference to the outcome.

So, if email is here to stay and is critical for your organization, how should you approach compliance and eDiscovery while also ensuring secure data access?

The first part of the question is pretty simple—embrace a strong eDiscovery solution, and foster the culture of archiving your enterprise emails to protect your data for compliance. If you have been using Zoho Mail's eDiscovery feature, you would know that our model follows an unparalleled security, compliance, and privacy approach. If you haven’t, check out our previous posts to learn more about how Zoho Mail's eDiscovery can help your business prepare for audits or litigation, prevent evidence spoliation, easily extract information, and ensure a smooth eDiscovery process.

The second part of the question—how can you ensure secure data access—is a little more complex. Data retained for eDiscovery is like storing valuables in a vault. Since it's sensitive in nature, it's pertinent to assign appropriate permissions to access this data on a need-to-know basis. Furthermore, giving granular access to users helps in securing the data and, as an admin, you can modify the level of permissions anytime as needed.

Now, let’s consider a situation where your organization is facing a legal issue. As an admin, you can search the data stored within the eDiscovery portal by default. However, during investigation, multiple members of the investigation team will be required to access, search, review, hold, or export the data. There maybe a case where some of the members would need access to only a few of those actions. For example, a legal counsel may require access to review your emails while a senior counsel may export the reviewed data for production. Assigning Admin role to all involved might be overkill and could compromise the controls within the organization.

In order to provide more nuanced control on data access within your organization, we have added the Custom Roles feature in the eDiscovery portal. This means that admins can create roles, add members to these roles, and assign specific permissions to them as necessary. Consider as part of your storage management practices, you wish to run backup on old data and store it offline to free-up cloud storage. You can very well consider exporting and deleting the data. As an admin, you are making a very informed decision. However, imagine if that same ability was given to any other user of your organization and how it would impact data security.

Having custom roles can be a blessing in such situations. It will ensure users have access to actions they need to perform while restricting access to more sensitive actions, such as exports, deletions, removing holds on certain data, deleting an investigation, or changing the retention rules. Any action taken by a user will also reflect in your audit logs, providing greater transparency and security. Click here to learn how to create and use custom roles in Zoho Mail.

Final thoughts

Enabling eDiscovery and retention for your organization is a key step in improving your organization's compliance posture. Adopting good data management practices further enhances your data security.  And, a role-based access control is a proven industry best practice for better data management. By using this feature, eDiscovery admins have the necessary tools to ensure compliance and enforce better data security for their organization.


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