5 Steps to SOX Compliance

October 30, 2017 by Jatheon

Failing to comply with federal, state and industry regulations and the thought of potential fines for non-compliance can sound like a death sentence for your organization. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, commonly known as Sarbanes-Oxley, Sarbox, or simply SOX, is now 15 years old, but it continues to present challenges for public companies. Taking the time to understand how your business should comply with SOX is an obvious, crucial, yet difficult first step.

1. Understand SOX: A Brief History

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted in 2002 and it brought major changes in the regulation of corporate governance and financial practices. The Act was introduced as a response to scandals involving large corporations who participated in fraudulent financial reporting which included spoliation and destruction of corporate documentation during legal proceedings. The Act is governed by SEC (The US Securities and Exchange Commission). It controls corporations’ financial documentation and mandates the rules for preservation and proper safe-keeping of electronic documentation (ESI), including email and social media communication data.

The Act is known to be very broad and complex. It is comprised of 11 titles, 6 of which are related to email compliance. Section 802 is especially important as it specifies the types of documentation that needs to be preserved and deals with retention policies and records tampering. For detailed info on the provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, check out this infographic.

SOX forced organizations to revise the way they handle online communication, including email. Click To Tweet

2. Assess your technology

In practice, Sarb-Ox forced organizations to revise the way they handle online communication (outbound, inbound and internal) and ensure proper handling of sensitive digital data. In the years following the Act, email archiving emerged as the optimal solution that can help organizations to meet SOX compliance.

Consequently, the logical second step is to turn your attention to your existing IT solution. Look at how you are storing your information, how it is distributed and check how secure your network is. Are you already archiving email? Are you satisfied with your solution? Sarbanes-Oxley strictly states that digitally stored information must be stored in a format that prevents it from being altered, manipulated or destroyed – so do you have the procedures in place to prevent this?

3. Choose an Archiving Solution

There are now many technical solutions that can enhance security and help you ensure compliance with data retention laws. The key lies in finding an email archiving solution that archives your information securely and allows data to be retrieved but not deleted, altered or damaged. Before choosing an email archiving solution for your organization, don’t forget to check its hardware and software features and make sure it’s compatible with your mail platform.

Your digital information must be archived in a format that prevents altering and manipulation. Click To Tweet

4. Implementation

Choosing your data solution isn’t the end of your SOX compliance strategy. During the implementation stage, you need to watch for any risks of data being lost or corrupted as it is migrated into the new system. Many organizations are reluctant to change their existing data archiving system because they worry about the risks associated with migration, which is why you should always look for archiving companies that provide assistance during data ingestion.

5. Management

Remember that compliance is an ongoing process. Continuously assessing security risks and managing your information is the best way to ensure you’re fully compliant. With email archiving, you’ll be able to identify potential risks before they become actual issues. If you are tasked with monitoring your company’s compliance or if it’s something you do on a regular basis, there’s no doubt you understand the importance of SOX compliance.

And finally, remember that every business is different. This means compliance strategies can vary, but the steps you take from understanding the legislation to monitoring the archiving process will remain the same.

Jatheon’s email archiving appliances contain state-of-the-art server grade hardware, a wide variety of software features for easy access and use of the archive and our Support team is happy to assist you in migrating your legacy data. To learn more about how Jatheon can help you achieve SOX compliance, schedule a demo today or register for our next webinar.

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