The Missing Link - An Overlooked Issue of Compliance in the Age of the Cloud
As regulated companies embrace cloud storage an oft overlooked issue provides for an unpleasant surprise
I was recently in a meeting with a Fortune 100 company. Like so many other companies, they are rapidly embracing the cloud, including cloud storage. Members of their IT team were assembled as well as two compliance officers.They reported that employees were adapting well to the introduction of cloud storage with the use of cloud file sharing rapidly becoming part of the day to day work processes. One key work process that was evolving quickly to cloud file sharing was email. Already, many users had substituted attaching files directly to email with copying cloud file share links into the email message.
And that's when it hit them.
Multi-Million Dollar Risk
The company is in a regulated industry, as such, they need to comply with strict rules that extend to their email communications. Part of those rules require retention of emails so that the email communications can be examined upon the event of regulatory or judicial investigation. A perceptive compliance officer realized that the company's adoption of cloud storage is generating a new compliance risk, namely, if email attachments are no longer being put inside email and instead are being sent as links to files in a user’s cloud storage, what happens if the linked files are deleted or overwritten at sometime after the email is sent and before a legal investigation? In other words, upon judicial order to present the email record, critical information would be missing. For this company, it represented an unforeseen, multi-million dollar risk.
I can't help but think of how many other companies across the entire economy are facing this same compliance risk. The fact is that existing email archiving systems are not yet adapted to accurately record the communication exchange when emails are no longer carrying attached files. I can only assume that many companies have simply not realized the potential legal time bomb awaiting them as a result of their embrace of the new cloud paradigm.
"I can only assume that many have not realized the potential legal time bomb awaiting them as a result of their embrace of the new cloud paradigm."
Defusing the Situation
The rapid adoption of cloud storage is creating significant savings and efficiency, but as it changes long standing processes, adjustments will need to be made to accommodate the new world order of the cloud. Technologies exist, like Mail2Cloud, that eliminate these and other vulnerabilities resulting from cloud storage adoption. But unless companies take the right precautions, many face a rude and expensive awakening.
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