Managing E–Mail and IM Records*

E–mail is the most common business software application and the backbone of business communications today. Employees utilize it all day, including during their personal time. Social media use has skyrocketed in recent years, and has actually surpassed e–mail for personal use, but the fact remains that in business, knowledge workers rely on e–mail for almost all communications, including those of a sensitive nature.

A 2011 survey of 2,400 corporate e–mail users worldwide found that nearly two–thirds stated that e–mail was their favorite form of business communication, surpassing not only social media, but also telephone and in–person contact.1

These e–mail communications may contain discoverable information in litigation, and a percentage of them will be declared as formal business records. E–mail often contains records, such as financial spreadsheets and reports, product price lists, marketing plans, competitive analyses, safety data, recruitment and salary details, progressing contract negotiations, and other information that may be considered as constituting a business record.

E–mail systems can be hacked, monitored, and compromised and cause far–reaching damage to a victimized organization. The damage may occur slowly, and go undetected, while information assets—and business value—are eroded.

In mid–2011, it was reported that the “hacktivist” group AntiSec claimed responsibility for hacking a U.S. government contractor, Booz Allen ...

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