Email has evolved over the years and continues to stay relevant as both business and personal communication rely heavily on it. Research shows 75% of most businesses’ intellectual property is contained in their email and messaging systems. This makes email more than just a communication medium—it is also a repository of data critical to your business and employees. With such important information residing in your inboxes, it makes sense to take extra care to ensure this data is not stolen or lost before its intended deletion.
What is email retention and eDiscovery?
Retaining a copy of all emails in an organization for a predefined period, regardless of whether or not they are deleted from individual mailboxes, is commonly called “email retention.” The admin decides the retention policy for an organization and ensures their email systems comply. Retained emails are accessible, searchable data and can serve as legal proof or investigative evidence. An admin can read, access, and search for specific data within retained emails.
That brings us to eDiscovery, a process by which all retained emails can be searched and accessed using a simple interface and filters without needing to sift through emails manually or write complex code scripts.
When do legal investigations and holds come into play?
Running a business without data breaches or legal issues is ideal, but in reality, it’s not always possible. While we cannot completely avoid legal investigations, we can however be prepared so they don’t catch us off guard. Prevention and readiness are not only better than a cure, but also cheaper. If you suspect there has been an illegal transfer of information, or if your company faces litigation, you may need to retain email data longer than your usual predefined retention periods. Once applied, legal holds will override retention rules until the investigation is closed.
Why are retention and eDiscovery important to you?
There are multiple different reasons why it is becoming increasingly necessary for organizations and businesses to adopt email retention policies.
Let’s say one morning you wake up to the news that some of your company’s proprietary technology has been leaked, or that someone outside the company has been receiving more information than necessary about a product under development. While panic and the impulse to send a company-wide email rebuking whoever responsible might be your immediate natural reaction, a more sensible one would be to get to the root of the issue and conduct an investigation by searching retained emails for sensitive keywords.Your retained emails can additionally help you defend yourselves against legal attacks or complaints, providing all necessary data when subpoenaed.
A well-designed email retention policy and eDiscovery system will help your business:
Comply with industry standards
Stay prepared for potential lawsuits
Avoid evidence tampering or deletion
Handle security breaches or litigation
Easily extract information for legal audits
Investigate intellectual property thefts
Settle contractual disputes or internal trading
Next in this series, we’ll talk about some best practices for designing or choosing eDiscovery software, as well as what pitfalls to avoid.
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