How often do you send confidential business documents via email? Weekly? Daily? Several times a day?
It's hardly surprising that we turn to business email when we need to send a document. It's quick, convenient and universal — pretty much everyone you need to contact has an email address.
Email isn't secure
But have you considered security? Any sensitive information contained in or attached to your emails will be stored on your company's email server. Often, this isn't scrambled or protected in any way.
If your server was hacked, for example, it would be trivial for online criminals to access this important information.
What's more, unless you take steps to hold on to it, the data on your email server won't stick around for ever. It might get automatically deleted after 30, 60 or 90 days.
If your company ever faces legal action, information about when you sent an email and what it contained can play a significant role in your defence. But only if you still have it, and can prove that it's not been tampered with.
You need an archive
An archiving system can help you address the security issues, while also ensuring you have a complete record of all emails sent and received by your company.
In fact, a proficient and advanced email archival program will keep all your emails and attached data safe, such as PDFs and Word documents.
You can be sued for breach of contract or unfair dismissal years after the event itself, so it may be a good idea to keep your email archive for six years or so. If you choose a good archiving system, that data will be stored in encrypted form and be easily searchable, so you can quickly find what you want.
Outsource or DIY?
If you've decided the time is right to store your confidential company data, you can outsource the work to a company that specialises in document archiving.
They will be able to offer a range of options to copy all your data and store it in a secure archive. And — of course — you'll benefit from their specialist knowledge and experience.
Alternatively, it is possible to create your data archive in-house. Doing this requires significant knowledge and effort, because you need to maintain your archive on an ongoing basis.
Whichever option you choose, you need to make sure it does the job it is supposed to do. That way you can avoid data breaches and external tampering, as well as having the necessary data to hand if you need it.
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Leilah Osher is a small business consultant who specialises in writing about business storage services and document archiving.