Email is pervasive in today's business environment, a fact that raises its own set of issues. In no particular order, here are the top five issues that any business needs to know about.
1. Spam. Spam. And more spam.
Email is both ubiquitous and cheap, which means that it is the easy choice for evildoers looking to cast a large net. While Bill Gates famously predicted that spam would be eliminated by 2007, he was, unfortunately, quite wrong. The volume of spam is growing: according to IronPort , an email management vendor, there were roughly 86 billion spam messages per day in the month of November 2006, up from 5 billion per day in June of 2006. That's an increase of over 1700 percent in five months. This rise in spam is based almost solely on financial incentives; in a 2005 speech, Mark Loveless of Bindview (later acquired by Symantec), broke down the black market for hacked information: $100-$500 for a known Internet Explorer flaw; $1,000-$5,000 for an unknown exploit; $150-$500 for a list of 5,000 IP addresses primed to become a bot network; $500-$5,000 for a list of 100 credit card numbers ... and the list goes on. When you combine those numbers, the estimated annual salary of a skilled hacker falls into the $100,000-$200,000 range, which is a nice number to get as an end-of-the-year, tax-free bonus.
There are numerous examples of companies running into email compliance issues, but perhaps one of the most high-profile cases was that of Frank Quattrone, an investment banker with Credit Suisse First Boston. After two trials and three years in court, legal observers said that Quattrone was essentially exonerated of all charges. The root cause of all the trouble? Whether Quattrone, in following company email policy, had obstructed an investigation by the SEC into IPO stock distribution. If following company policy got him three years in court ... you don't want to mess this up.
3. Archive Search and Retrieval
According to EVault, an online backup and recovery solution provider, industry experts estimate that the average worker generates 14MB per day in email storage requirements. Multiply that by the number of workers in your company, the number of work days in the year and the length of time that regulatory bodies require such documents to be kept, and you get a huge amount of data. Further, if legal action is taken, that data must be stored in such a way that it is easily searchable; numerous examples have shown that it is more cost effective to invest upfront in an intelligent archive system than to search for the proverbial kilobyte-sized email needle in the terabyte-sized archive haystack.
4. Viruses and Spyware
As mentioned above, the amount of spam flying across the Internet has skyrocketed. Hidden among the stock scams, bank schemes, and drug advertisements are viruses. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the traditional "mess with your system for the pure malice of it" type worms and viruses, to the information gathering Trojan horses , adware and spyware . None of them are good news.
5. Content Security
An issue that often flies under the radar because of its internal focus, content security is nonetheless key to making sure that confidential, sensitive, or illegal content is neither circulated within nor leaked from the company. Companies often couple message content scanning technologies with an email usage policy to address this issue.
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