Learning from 'Emailgate'
News recently broke over Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email address on a private server to conduct government business. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have called this a "serious breach,” according to federal record-keeping practices, where the duty to preserve emails from government officials is required. By using the private account, Clinton’s emails were not protected, were not preserved for future reference and they became unsearchable by the State Department. This left many questioning a protocol that would allow such exclusive use of her personal account for sensitive, work-related emails.
This email scandal, dubbed 'Emailgate,' is just another in a long list of media events where we are reminded of the significance email plays in business and government, including areas like lawsuits and regulatory inquiries. Because email remains the most viable target in records searches today, headlines have been dominated by failures to properly handle email. According to IDC, 60 percent of business critical information is stored in email. Much of it is generated and stored in pst’s, thumb drives or personal devices. Whether conducting official state business or not, as employees use new devices or share data in new ways, organizations must stay on top of those developments and incorporate new forms of data into their governance plans. Otherwise, important data sources will be left unprotected, inaccessible and the topic of the next front-page headline or water-cooler conversation.
Ironically, we recently published an article in Information Management magazine called “Five Potentially Lethal Information Management Mistakes.” This scandal breaks rule No. 2: Not Capturing All The Data. The best way to ensure vigilant monitoring and data collection is through a single virtual repository that captures and stores data, whether it’s archived or backed up, in the public or private cloud, from all types of devices. With such a repository, data can be comprehensively searched from a single location and deduplicated. The result is better control of applications, processes, and data workflows across the organization. I encourage you to read about the other land mines of information management, and how to avoid each one of them in this article.
Managing information is harder than ever. Like in the case of Mrs. Clinton, organizations may find, perhaps too late, that their information management strategy is not providing the vigilance they need. For example, is your records retention strategy broadly communicated? Is it automated? Did the State Department know better? Do you? It will be interesting to watch this unfold and see what this will ultimately cost her. In the meantime, think about the cost, risk and exposure implications of your information management strategy. Whether you’re the CIO, IT department, Compliance or Legal Officer, even an end-user like Mrs. Clinton, you don’t want to be the poster child of the next Emailgate.
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