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Two-Thirds of U.S. Small Enterprises Risk E-mail Loss, Compliance Penalties

An independent survey of 202 U.S.-based IT decision makers at small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) reveals a frightening lack e-mail archives -- and data backups in general.

According to the survey, most (62.4 percent) SMEs don’t use a mail-archiving product. Besides exposing users to limited e-mail backup and recovery (if not complete, outright data loss), these SMEs could be unable to locate messages when they’re audited or receive an eDiscovery request, resulting in “costly compliance violations or legal suits.”

The survey, conducted by Opinion Matters, was sponsored by GFI Software, which sells Web and mail security as well as archiving solutions for the SME market.

If the lack of archiving isn’t enough to make you shiver, consider this: GFI says its survey found that more than 38 percent of respondents don’t have any archiving or backup solution at all, “further exacerbating the chances that a network failure could result in a complete loss of critical data stored in e-mail.”

This lack of a backup solution surprised me; backup is part of IT 101, isn’t it? It’s even more troublesome given that over one-third of companies (37 percent) “are required to search for old or deleted e-mails on a monthly basis, if not more frequently, because of requests from end users, the need to meet compliance requirements, the need to provide copies of correspondence for a lawsuit or audit, or any other requirements.” [emphasis added]

The smaller the IT staff, the greater the enterprise’s risk. “Two-thirds (66.8 percent) of respondents were unfamiliar with U.S. regulatory compliance standards regarding e-mail archiving. This number ballooned to over 90 percent in businesses that rely on only one IT professional,” GFI says.

Walter Scott, GFI Software’s CEO, noted that “Taking the risk of not backing up or archiving key data stored in e-mail can be a very costly gamble depending on the type of data your business is dealing with.”

Now there’s an understatement.

--James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 03/22/2011 at 11:53 AM