We’ve become very familiar with business email. Most of us send them without a second thought. We see email as a quick form of communication, nothing more. But that isn’t always the case. Every business email has the potential to hurt your business, at every stage in its existence.
Before a single word has been written a business email holds an enormous amount of potential risk. It could be a joke between colleagues, an important announcement or even conspiratorial plot hatching. Each of these and every other business email imaginable starts with a single flashing cursor. They all start out the same but some are more important than others.
One of the factors that will affect just how important an email becomes will be the attachments. Like the body text, an attachment holds the potential to bring down an entire business, while it may just be a menial task broken down in a word document. The wrong email attachment on the wrong mail could cause huge legal problems, even though all it takes is a few clicks.
There are pitfalls in sending a business email too. Information leaks, data loss and security breaches can often be traced back to the addition of the wrong address on an email.
The real risk of sending an email to a wrong address is the potential for it to be read. It’s also important to think about replies. Business emails containing sensitive information are usually carefully thought out, but replies can be throwaway. That’s where liability and compliance risks come in.
Once a business email has been sent it must be retained. This is where compliance can become an issue. Depending on the industry and the data involved the requirements surrounding the retention will be different. The risk is in retaining it for too short a period or retaining it in an inadequate or unoriginal format. If you retain a business email that contains sensitive data in an unsecured location, you could find yourself in breach of regulations.
Which brings us to consequences. A breach of compliance regulations, like Sarbanes-Oxley, can result in both financial sanctions and jail time. Business emails often become smoking gun evidence in lawsuits too. The cost of losing a lawsuit can be massive; it can destroy the finances of an organization.
Every business email carries a risk. The only way to avoid those risks is to think carefully about every stage of every email. Because even the most minor mistake can result in a massive problem.
Download our white paper "The Benefits of Email Archiving" and see how email archiving is more than just a storage facility.