Recent days have seen more high profile cases of company data being leaked or shared inadvertently with external organisations.
Explanations for these events occurring range from the plausible to the ridiculous. Some claim their IT system was hacked without their knowledge, others claim they sent the email to the wrong email address or worse still sent the wrong attachment to the correct recipient. As humans we do make mistakes & do some stupid things.
However, being based in data management, what has intrigued me has been the explanation of the events. Also, reassurances are being given by the organisations involved that although they sent or received something they shouldn’t have, the information is no longer on their IT system or on that of the organisation/individual they sent it to in error. Whatever about guaranteeing the information has been deleted from their IT infrastructure it amazes me how they can guarantee it has been removed from the other organisation’s one. How did they delete it? It can be done but is not as straightforward as you may think.
It still surprises me how many Directors/MD’s/CEO’s I encounter who think that if they go to their Outlook & delete an email, it’s gone. Not at all. Sure it’s gone from their Outlook but it still resides in say the Microsoft Exchange server until such time as it has been deleted from their by the IT Administrator – and only if that Administrator can locate the specific email in question in the first place.
Other senior management I encounter from time to time seem to suffer from a paralysis of action when they learn that email archiving solutions capture all email – period. Think of the analogy of the ostrich sticking it’s head in the sand. My usual response to such a reaction is to hypothesise a legal situation for them where the retrieval of emails are central to the case. I pose the situation how damaging would it be for the opposition to be able to disclose to the court all emails they have sent & received from your organisation and yet you not be in a position to do that. How can your legal team develop it’s strategy when it doesn’t have the ability to locate all data related to the case.
The strategy I encourage is to be proactive rather than reactive. There is no point in running around looking for an email archiving solution after you have received a subpoena, too late. Why hope that a situation like that doesn’t arise and then be bounced into action. Much better to have all of your email data in a safe encrypted environment & have an eDiscovery portal allowing you to confirm/deny that your organisation sent/received incriminating data than to go into court waiting to see what the opposition will disclose & hope it isn’t something damaging to you.
So protect your organisation, protect your employees, protect your assets, protect your intellectual property.