Some administrators think that email archiving is only secondary to a backup solution and don’t put much time or effort into building a good strategy. Backups are necessary, but email archives are also a necessary component in disaster recovery, compliance, audits, and incident response. Most administrators view archives as an additional backup, which puts a strain on budgets. Email archives, however, are not a simple backup. They provide necessary methods for reviewing older email messages and can be used in litigation and investigations.
When administrators set up an email server, they set up a system to back up email messages. The backups can be used in disaster recovery, or messages can be recovered if a user accidentally deletes important emails. They can also be used as a way for managers to load user messages after they leave the organization to properly handle customer concerns. Backups have several uses, so they are created as a compliant component in disaster recovery.
Email archives work differently, but they are still as useful and often help with keeping an organization compliant. An email archive creates an audit trail for incident response and investigations. Investigations are performed after an impropriety or a cyber-attack, but investigators need a way to search through potentially terabytes of messages. Archives assist with searches and filter out unnecessary data so that investigators can find important messages that help with an audit.
With an email archive, data is stored in categories with metadata attached to messages. Think of the metadata as keywords that can be used to categories and search email messages. Investigators can search for messages based off metadata tagged on data so that they can find specific information relevant to their search. Instead of requiring auditors to go through thousands of messages, they can filter out unnecessary data and view only messages relevant to a specific date, group of people, department, sender, or recipient.
Archives are often a component in compliance, so organizations must create a system where email is stored. Not only does the organization need current data backed up, but they also need a retention plan and a place to store the data. For large organizations, this data could be terabytes with a retention plan spanning over a year.
For organizations that handle thousands of email messages a day, these challenges are why administrators will think of archive solutions as a secondary necessity after backups. While backups are indeed necessary, archives are also necessary after an incident. It isn’t until the organization experiences an incident that administrators realize the importance of archiving email. With no archives, the organization also faces hefty fines for being out of compliance.
The cloud offers solutions for many of these challenges. Storage is always the primary concern when terabytes of data are involved. With the cloud, storage solutions scale automatically as data is continually pushed to capacity. Administrators can move data across cloud storage devices based on their own retention plan and data rotation strategies.
Tagging data, especially thousands of messages, can also be a challenge, so administrators need a solution that will help them categorize and tag information properly. Cloud solutions can also help with this challenge and create an organized way for administrators to manage email archiving.
Query speed is also an issue for administrators managing terabytes of email data. Metadata acts like an index for search queries to speed up searches. When auditors or investigators need to extract specific data, the process should not take too long. Slow search queries affect investigations and frustrate users who must perform several searches until they find the messages needed for review. The right cloud solution keeps queries optimized for speed across all archived messages and storage locations.
Finally, the cloud also offers the cybersecurity necessary to protect data. Administrators can configure the way the cloud stores data and provide access to only employees, auditors, vendors, and contractors who need access. Cloud configurations will stop unauthorized users from accessing data, both from external attackers and internal threats. It also stops malware from accessing data. Malware such as ransomware scans storage resources for backups so that organizations cannot recover from backups. The cloud offers a way to stop these attacks.
Backups are still necessary components in disaster recovery, but archives are necessary for compliance and investigations. Email archives should be a priority for administrators in the same way backups are also a priority. It might not seem important now, but archives will help facilitate a smoother investigation process after an incident.
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