Information security has certainly been the subject of headline news lately. Most of the press revolves around the WikiLeaks story but within the last thirty days both McDonalds and Walgreens have also publicly acknowledged the loss of customer data providing grim evidence that the threat is pervasive. The risks associated with data leakage are certainly not a new topic within the IT community and many companies fear that implementing steps to avoid or detect data leaks can be both expensive and time consuming. While it’s true that enforcing a full scale information security policy is a significant effort, your threat can be reduced by taking some simple and cost effective steps to monitor your valuable information.
We all know that leaks originate from a variety of sources. A recent study conducted by Unisphere Research found that email systems were the third most common source of leaks (after databases and web applications). There are a variety of auditing tools that can ease the information management challenge associated with email. Look for software that can monitor messages for specific words, phrases or patterns to help alert you that inappropriate content is being transmitted.

If you already own an ediscovery compliance product it likely has some capabilities to scan your email data storage repository or even PST file content. For more aggressive enforcement consider purchasing a tool that is capable of scanning email content on a recurring schedule. For example, many customers use the Sherpa Mail Attender products in order to create rules that regularly monitor messages using an Exchange email search or a Lotus Notes NSF search. These searches can be performed automatically on a daily (or even hourly) basis to scan for specific keywords, patterns, SMTP addresses or other properties that may be contained in the message body or attachments.

It is a great time to consider adding improved email security to your list of IT resolutions for 2011. If you would like to learn more about how to easily (and economically) monitor your email content using compliance or content management tools please contact us, we will be happy to share some ideas with you.