One of the most common misconceptions we get to deal with in the email business is the notion that the almighty cloud eliminates the need for backups, redundancy, compliance archiving, and disaster planning in general. Nothing could be further from the truth so please share this checklist with your clients and decision makers so they can make informed decisions about how much protection is needed for critical business data.

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Now, let’s tear apart the myths we hear most often:

It’s in the cloud so it’s already backed up. You will not find a single cloud service provider that will offer their backup policies in explicit detail. This is not just a matter of secrecy (exposing the network and storage design) but also of implementation: some services just don’t have a backup only a lagged copy. Never, ever, assume that your cloud provider cares about your data more than you do, it’s no coincidence that the first thing you do with every service you sign up for is a mandatory acceptance of terms of service that you’ve likely never read. Your data is your sole responsibility.

It’s in the cloud and they say it’s there forever. Sometimes marketing gets falsely associated with the actual service deliverables: “You will never have to delete email to make space” doesn’t translate into “Your email will never disappear” – all major email providers have a well documented trail of losing clients mail, deleting their mailboxes “for policy violations” and otherwise shunning any responsibility.

It’s in the cloud so someone is actively managing it. Cloud service providers manage the cloud service, management of your personal data is often the secondary concern. That sounds harsh so allow me to elaborate the top down view: Imagine your service just crashed, massive catastrophe: What is your primary concern? Restoring access to service to send/receive email, or restoring clients data from 5 years ago? Now align those priorities with the budget: What is more important to the cloud provider: service operation or access to old data? Many services are even pushing for not keeping all of your data in the cloud at all, the notion of archive boxes and focused views is all about not having the responsibility for your data.

It’s in the cloud so it meets compliance. Your regulatory compliance requires assurance that data could not have been deleted. That kind of assurance only comes with services like ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving which archives messages before anyone has a chance to tamper or delete the data. Furthermore, the backend system for an archiving or compliance solution is radically different because of the liability: companies that insure confidential data storage are far more concerned about redundancy, backups and data loss than they are about the uptime and service availability.

Now that the myths surrounding the false sense of cloud security are shattered, let’s look over a brief plan you need to implement to safeguard your data:

1. Document everyone with access to email.
2. Come up with a policy for adding/removing employee email.
3. Identify any regulatory compliance requirements.
4. Identify business case scenario requiring long term archiving.
5. Document who has access to what and how changes are tracked.
6. Come up with a data retention and data backup plans.
7. Understand the law and security, make neccessary adjustments.
8. Designate a Compliance Officer to manage everything.
9. Test your backups and compliance archiving routinely.
10. Periodically audit everything in the previous 9 steps.

Truth is, there are hundreds of steps in cloud security management for each of the 10 items I listed above: The goal isn’t to give you a blueprint, the goal is to make you aware of complexities and the issues that can come up when the basics are ignored. If you would like the details, give us a call, email is what we do for a living and (unfortunately) our expertise is developed over the years of cleaning up our clients neglect of their email infrastructure – let us and our partners know how we can help.