Poor Email Handling Risks Legal Action, Study Warns

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Poor email management by firms is risking legal consequences a majority of workers believe

A survey from software developer Oasys has revealed 96 percent of employees believe their companies face possible legal risks associated with poor email management.

Indeed, one in five workers stated that their company faces “high risk”, according to the survey of 1,237 employees.

The findings were part of the company’s September 2011 Business Behaviour & Email Management Project, which show that time constraints during the e-discovery process are indeed a major factor.

Lost Emails

The survey revealed that more than a third of business professionals are losing 2 hours or more every day searching for emails that are hard to find. Thirty-four percent of employees surveyed said they spend on average up to 2 hours a day searching for emails, while 8.4 percent spend up to 3 hours a day in the process.

“What most companies don’t understand are the costly challenges associated with having a disorganised email system in the event of litigation,” said attorney Joseph Dennis. “In some cases we’ve seen companies fined by regulatory agencies as much as $700,000 (£439,000) for not being able to produce specific emails under very tight timeframes imposed by the courts during the e-discovery process.”

With the volume of email set to increase, the problem is projected to get much worse, the Oasys study suggested. According to a report by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, the number of email users is estimated to rise to 1.9 billion by 2013, and many companies have still failed to implement effective solutions to handle the constantly increasing volumes.

Email Deluge

“IT departments simply aren’t prepared to handle the exploding volume of data they are seeing and often end up imposing inbox size limits on the individual users, contributing to the problem of misplaced email,” said Alec Milton, CEO of Oasys Software.

While business professionals say they are spending an overwhelming amount of time looking for emails, an alarming 87.9 percent admitted to having deleted important emails due to inbox size limits. IT research firm IDC estimated the cost of identifying and handling information during the e-discovery process to be between $12 billion (£7.5bn) and $22 billion (£13.8bn).

In a survey of 830 information technology, security and compliance professionals, more than half said improper email use by employees is the main cause of data leaks within their organisation, the Ponemon Institute said in a recent report. The study, sponsored by email encryption vendor Zix, looked at the risk to confidential information transmitted by email.

Approximately 69 percent said employees have violated security policies and frequently send sensitive information through insecure email channels, and 60 percent use personal webmail accounts to send corporate information, the survey found.

About 63 percent believe employees mistakenly send confidential information to recipients outside the workplace. In addition, 70 percent of the compliance and security professionals surveyed are concerned about data lost via email on mobile devices.

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