Hilary Clinton's announcement of her candidacy for the Democrat nomination for the US presidency in a youtube video highlighted the increasing importance of social media in the modern world, but it was in marked contrast to her cavalier approach to emails in her time as US Secretary of State.
An article in the New York Times in March revealed Clinton had preferred to use her personal email address instead of her official .gov government e-mail address when she was Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) described this unusual situation as a “serious breach” of federal practices and the duty to preserve emails from government officials.
Using her private account meant Clinton’s emails were not protected, were not preserved for future reference and were unsearchable by the State Department. Unsurprisingly, this has raised questions over how a high ranking government official was able to make such exclusive use of her personal account for sensitive, work-related emails.
While Clinton's case is unlikely to be unique, it is sufficiently high profile to help focus people's attention on the significance of email to businesses and administrations. According to IDC, 60 per cent of critical information is stored in emails and many of them are generated and stored in USB keys or personal devices.
The onus is on companies and organisations to manage their employees' emails to ensure they are accessible securely from anywhere and on any device, anytime. But as employees use new devices or share data in new ways, organisations need to stay on top of those developments and incorporate new forms of data into their governance plans. Otherwise, important data sources will be left unprotected and inaccessible.
The best way to ensure vigilant monitoring and data collection is through a single virtual repository that captures and stores data, whether it’s archived or backed up, in the public or private cloud, from all types of devices. With such a repository, data can be fully searched from a single location and deduplicated. The result is better control of applications, processes and data workflows across the organisation.
Very few companies or organisations, large or small, think to protect emails even though they contain documents and information of the utmost importance. But given their significance, they really ought to ensure emails are protected and accessible, especially for legal and information management purposes.
From a legal standpoint, it is essential to maintain the integrity of emails that need to be retained for a statutory period for legal and compliance reasons. It is also crucial that the proper information management structure is in place to organise data in a consistent and sustainable manner so emails can be properly archived and the information they contain can be easily accessed.
Automated archiving is a simple way to achieve those goals, to protect the sustainability of a company or organisation and to safeguard its image. The fall out from Hilary Clinton's “Emailgate” demonstrates that organisations often don't realise their internal information management strategy is ineffective, or even non-existent, until something bad happens.
Organisations need to think about the cost, risk and exposure implications of their information management strategy.
Nobody wants to be the poster child for the next Emailgate. Starring in negative headlines in the media is the worst way to discover there's something wrong with your information management strategy, especially when it can be so easily prevented.
Patrick Rohrbasser is Country Manager France and North Africa at CommVault