Archiving email on webmail services exposes sensitive data

The number of respondents using webmail services jumped to 51% when only small businesses were considered, according a survey of 200 IT decision makers in US organizations conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI Software.

At the same time, 93% of organizations placed a value of $100,000 or more on information contained in archived email. Close to 20% said that such information was priceless.

According to the survey, 20% of respondents said their email archives did not currently provide them with business intelligence for controlling data leakage.

Automating and centralizing email archiving can improve security by providing IT security professionals with a record of emails, which can provide evidence of inappropriate email activities, explained Brian Azzopardi, MailArchiver product manager, GFI Software.

This record could provide a red flag about a security breach. “Having a central archive with reporting capabilities will provide you with this ability”, he told Infosecurity.

Archiving email through server-side storage, individual machines, and webmail services also creates inefficiencies in the organization, the survey found. A full 69% of respondents indicated that employee requests for assistance retrieving deleted emails limited the productivity of their IT staff.

On average, respondents said they received more than 15 requests per week from users who need access to old or archived email, while one in four of those surveyed had to field 18 requests or more per week.

A surprising 45% of those surveyed had no IT solution for managing and automating email archive retention and retrieval. One-quarter of respondents did not believe they were storing their email in the most cost-effective way.

To tackle the vast amounts of data contained in archived email, GFI Software is offering MailInsights as part of its MailArchiver product. MailInsights provides a data analysis tool that enables organizations to mine the data contained in their emails.

“The amount of email we all send becomes unmanageable just by looking at the emails”, said Phil Bousfield, general manager of GFI Software’s infrastructure business unit. “Email is one of the key areas where data leakage can occur”, he told Infosecurity. MailInsights provides organization with the ability to manage and monitor email to lessen the chance of leakage, he added.

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