Regulatory compliance is an increasingly important concern for businesses across the world, especially those who deal with the private data of European citizens no matter where they are headquartered or operational. The GDPR, which “goes live” on 25th May 2018, will enshrine this compliance in a uniform manner. Meanwhile the amount of data collected, processed and stored by businesses has increased exponentially over the past decade, legal requirements regarding how this data should be treated have also increased.
This means that businesses are now required to store more data than ever and for longer time periods. This presents a number of issues from storage capacity to simply ensuring that all relevant data is collected and retained.
A huge amount of business data is now contained in emails which can cause some unique challenges for regulatory compliance. Below, we have listed some steps you can take to ensure corporate email compliance.
Understand Regulatory Requirements
Depending on the specific makeup and legal status of your organization, your industry or sector and the geographical locations you operate in, there may be a number of different laws and regulations you are required to meet.
In addition to existing regulatory requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA and data protection legislation, you must also consider your potential exposure to future and planned compliance regulations.
For example, companies operating in the European Union must be in compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 2018 and will incur significant financial penalties if they fail to meet the requirements.
The first and most important thing to do is understand which acts and policies your business must be compliant with and what the exact requirements are in terms of storage, retention, reporting and auditing.
Identify Retention Requirements
One of the main challenges experienced by businesses in regulatory compliance is meeting the data retention requirements of the various policies they must adhere to which often require data be retained for longer than would normally be deemed necessary for operational purposes.
Firstly, there are the practical difficulties in storing such large amounts of data for longer periods than otherwise desired. In addition, actually ensuring that all relevant data is retained within the organization can be an issue, particularly with more users using laptops or BYOD and storing data locally.
In addition, data retention requirements can also come into conflict with data privacy rights. For example, laws ensuring that individuals have a “right to be forgotten” might insist that data is deleted on request while meeting compliance requirements state that data must be kept for a specific period of time.
To ensure email compliance in your organization, you must identify the specific data which must be retained and for how long and implement a system which allows for the secure storage and retrieval of this data.
Protect Against Data Loss
Data loss is a very serious concern for all organizations due to the risk of losing important customers, operational or financial information. Additionally, data loss could also impact on regulatory compliance if data which must be retained becomes unavailable.
Just about every organization will have some type of policy to mitigate the risk of data loss and a contingency plan in the event that resources become unavailable. However, with email, there are additional risks which may not have been considered.
Even well-meaning employees can cause the loss of important email data which could negatively impact compliance. For example, an employee may send an email to a client or supplier through a personal email account meaning the data is no longer available within the organization.
The increase in the use of laptops and BYOD policies in companies raises the potential risk that employees may store data locally. For example, employees may use PST files to store emails on their laptop. This data is not centrally available and if the device becomes damaged or lost could be lost forever.
Create and Enforce an Email Policy
It is for these reasons that it is so important to create an email policy within your organization which is communicated to all employees. Additionally, employees need to be trained and supported correctly to ensure adherence to this policy.
From a compliance perspective, this policy should include clear rules on how emails may be sent, stored and deleted. This may include a ban on storing emails in PST or other local file formats to ensure all data remains within the organization.
After the policy has been created and communicated and employees are adequately trained it must be enforced. For example, performing an internal audit of your policy will allow you to identify breaches of the policy and areas for improvement.
Utilize an Email Archiving Solution
An email archiving solution is the most efficient and cost effective method of ensuring that you meet your compliance requirements. In addition to ensuring that your meet your retention requirements, an archiving solution also helps to reduce storage space.
Our email archiving solution MailMeter does more than just this. It also helps you to search and retrieve relevant emails more quickly and effectively and provides tools to report on the data contained in your email archive.
Our Compliance Review tool also helps you to create and perform compliance reviews to ensure that your organization is compliance. For more information on how MailMeter can help your organization with email compliance, get in touch with the team now.