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March 08, 2006

Hope is Not Enough When It Comes To Compliance

Managing Risk: Simple Steps To E-mail Compliance

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There are several measures businesses can take today to better manage risk related to e-mail communications. For most companies, compliance means having the capability to encrypt messages leaving their network, but just because encryption capabilities may be place, does not mean the e-mail system is complete. As a first step, businesses must employ a flexible platform that scales with evolving compliance regulations and corporate governance policies to keep the process as easy as possible. An e-mail monitoring solution should embody the following features in order that all sensitive data can be captured to prevent a security breach or corporate policy violation while measuring progress:

  • Message and attachment scanning against relevant regulations and rules
  • ID/Record matching identifying whether an email has specific information
  • Dictionaries and disguised text identification to identify specific words, phrases including those that may be misspelled or those specific to a particular vertical industry
  • Policy management by groups enabling rules and regulations to be applied to a group or department level
  • Easy and quick reporting capabilities
  • Finally, for most companies, Compliance means having the capability to encrypt messages leaving their network

Businesses must be pragmatic and look beyond just the "bad" data leaving their network and take the simple first step of monitoring outbound e-mail to gauge their particular situation. Remediation can be staged after that – whether a company decides to block deliver, review, copy, or archive the e-mail. Regardless of the actions taken to address sensitive content found in outbound communications, every organization needs a system in place to monitor outbound e-mail content.

Hoping that your business meets the letter of the law or hoping that it is not the victim of a data security breach is not enough these days. While businesses are increasingly concerned about adhering to the current regulatory environment as well as shoring up internal corporate policies, action is required today and cannot be put on the backburner. The utility of e-mail as the primary business communication tool in the workforce has exposed new vulnerabilities and is at risk. Outbound e-mail monitoring is not the magic bullet to achieving compliant status, but it is a factor that must be addressed in any compliance strategy.

Anne Bonaparte is president and chief executive officer of MailFrontier, an e-mail security and content compliance provider.

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