Everyone makes mistakes, even email administrators. And while it’s good to learn from our mistakes, it’s better to learn from others’ mistakes and avoid them entirely. Here are some common email management mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Absence of Management. Just because you don’t have an email management system doesn’t mean you don’t need one. A management system can impact an organization’s bottom line by saving on storage costs and keeping it out of hot water when lawyers and regulators appear on the doorstep. Avoid this problem by developing and implementing a management scheme as soon as possible.
2. Email Silo. Email management is more than keeping email servers humming, performing backups, patching software and supporting users. It also includes implementing policies to prevent data loss within an organization. Avoid this problem by putting together a data loss plan. Include in it acceptable-use policies and employee education on secure email practices.
3. Robo Delete. Blanket deletion of email without regard to what’s in it is unwise as well as dangerous. Avoid this problem by assessing your organization’s legal and operational demands, determine a retention period and implement the policy consistently. Remember that employees are more likely to comply with your policies if they have tools to make it easy for them to archive email and managers need an easy way to modify your system to deal with changing protection demands.
4. Spam Complacency. While junk mail volumes continue to decline, the risks posed by spam continue to rise. Sure, some spectacular raids against spammer strongholds have had an effect on volumes, but so has a change in the MO of junk mailers. They’re much more particular when preparing spam campaigns. Some buy lists of verified email addresses. Others target key personnel in “spear phishing” attacks. Avoid complacency by keeping your perimeter spam defenses strong and educating employees on how to identify suspicious email and what to do with it once it’s identified.
5. Get Ready for IPv6. Even if you don’t have plans to move to the new Internet numbering scheme now, ignoring it is just putting your head in the sand. Avoid this pitfall by developing an IPv6 plan for both general and email purposes. Eventually, you’re going to have update your routers and switchers, too, so they can do deep-packet inspection of IPv6 traffic. Blacklisting and reputation services may be in your future, also, as the enormous number of new addresses enabled by IPv6 will make reverse lookups dysfunctional.
6. Tapes Aren’t Archives. Backup tapes aren’t archives. Archives are designed to be searched. Backup tapes typically are not. Avoid that problem by storing email business records in a digital archive. It should have tools for easy searching, discovery, organization and retention management.
7. Emails Aren’t Documents. Granted, your organization dropped a bundle on its document management system, and it would like to fold email management into it. That may be possible, but chances are it’s not. The volume and indexing demands of email are far greater than they are for documents. Avoid that problem with a dedicated email management solution.
8. Mixed Up Media. Some organizations try to apply their paper retention policies to their email. That usually doesn’t work because of the massive amounts of email generated by organizations and paper classification schemes are too prolix for users. Paper retention schemes can be used as a framework for email management but they must be optimized for use with electronic records.