Ediscovery and Email Archiving: Is Your Organization Ready?

October 01, 2018 by Jatheon

Electronic discovery, better known as eDiscovery, is the process in which any electronically stored information (ESI) is requested, searched, located and produced with the intent of using it in a court case as evidence, for government investigations, or as part of a Freedom of Information Act requests.

Electronic data is very specific, not only because of its intangible form and transience, but also because it’s accompanied by metadata (e.g. the device used to send a message or the date and time an email was written) that can play a vital part as evidence. Hence, to preserve document metadata and to make vast numbers of corporate electronic exchanges searchable, it’s not enough to print an email or take a screenshot, especially because such formats can be susceptible to evidence spoliation. With this in mind, how can organizations handle eDiscovery requests properly?

Electronic data is very specific because it’s accompanied by metadata which can play a vital part as evidence. Click To Tweet

The motto here is to be prepared! This is the most important element of dealing with an eDiscovery request. Establishing best practices for eDiscovery has proven to aid organizations in dealing with requests – organizations which are fully prepared are able to cope with an eDiscovery request in only one-third of the time that unprepared businesses took to respond. So get working on a plan – establish best practices, keep track of storage of electronic information and foster a culture of archiving your enterprise email.

Who’s responsible for eDiscovery: More work for your IT department

After some years of little to no involvement with eDiscovery, IT departments are now becoming responsible for data management in many organizations. This is because digital data is growing so fast and IT staff tend to be best equipped to deal with it. Because data growth is exponential in both private and public sectors, it’s now a major challenge to manage data storage and archiving across a company network, especially because data storage mediums have evolved and remnants of old technologies can be found mixed in with new technologies. How many organizations have you encountered that are still using disk and tape data backup and archives?

How to best handle eDiscovery requests?

Understandably, IT departments have been loath to take on these responsibilities, as the combination of data storage and compliance duties can equal one big mess. While complying with eDiscovery may seem like excessive work to everyone involved, companies are legally obliged to keep archives of all business-critical and sensitive information (and 75% of it resides in email).

There’s no way to avoid eDiscovery anymore, as the fines and court action associated with it are too hefty to ignore. In a survey by Osterman Research, it was found that the average time it takes to respond to an eDiscovery request is between 8 man-hours and 16 man-hours. That’s 1 -2 full days. Unsurprisingly, the average cost to companies during an eDiscovery case is $1.8 million, 70% of which is paid to legal experts who review data. The hits just keep on coming when it comes to court-imposed sanctions on eDiscovery failures.

The average time it takes to respond to an #eDiscovery request is between 8 and 16 man-hours. #OstermanResearch Click To Tweet

Reduce eDiscovery risks by using an email archiving solution

As email use continues to rise in businesses, so do the risks associated with the confidential data communicated in emails. It is now vital that businesses treat their email data the same as their regular data for archiving purposes and eDiscovery. This is because corporate email is classified as a form of record – in 2006, the US Supreme Court’s amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure led to the creation of a new category for electronic records. This is when the law first explicitly named email, instant messages and social media chats as likely records to be archived and requested when relevant.

The good news is that there are technological solutions available to ensure coherent data backup and email archiving for eDiscovery. All-in-one appliances are easy to install onto a network and really take the workload off the IT department in the process, while cloud-based email archiving solutions solve the legal preparedness problems for smaller and medium-sized companies.

With an email archiving solution, all incoming, outgoing and internal email is captured, and a copy of it is indexed, made searchable and packed for secured long-term storage. When there is reasonable anticipation of litigation, data identified as potentially relevant is placed under legal hold. This ensures that data cannot be altered or destroyed. In order to search millions of archived emails in record times, email archivers need superior search functionalities which allow organizations to respond to eDiscovery and FOIA requests in under 30 minutes. The best part is that the entire process is automated, so businesses don’t need to worry about daily backups or manual archiving.

To sum up, an email archiving solution will allow you to easily apply litigation holds, prevent evidence spoliation and ensure a smooth eDiscovery process without paying thousands of dollars for data retrieval.

Jatheon is a global leader in email, social media and mobile communications archiving with 15 years of experience with regulated industries. This October, we’re launching a new cloud email archiving solution. To learn how Jatheon can help you choose and implement the right archiving solution for your business and help you with eDiscovery, contact us or schedule your personal demo.

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