5 Ways to Bolster Email Data Protection During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the advent of COVID-19, the importance of routine, everyday email to get your job done has been significantly elevated; it’s our most useful form of communication. Many people are fortunate enough to work from home now, and digital communications – whether synchronous or asynchronous – are omnipresent. It’s hard to know yet, but we are probably using email more than ever during this time.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are unrelenting and using this time to stay on the attack; in fact, new research shows that monthly volume from January to March 2020 increased by about 33% across all detection categories.

Accidental or malicious destruction of email can bring IT and end user productivity to an immediate halt. Spending time trying to recover deleted email, or negotiating a ransomware request, will hamper everyone’s productivity, especially at a time when IT staffs are suddenly tasked with supporting work-from-home initiatives in this new, changing environment, while end users are left waiting for recovery efforts.

To avoid a halt in productivity, continue reading for five things you can do to protect your data:

  1. Make sure you have a secure, resilient copy of your enterprise e-email system. During this time, backup and recovery is paramount. If you suffer an outage, malicious attack or accidental deletion, a rapid backup and recovery system will ensure that downtime is minimal, and that productivity is restored. A system like Mimecast Sync & Recover that supports not only backup and recovery, but also e-discovery, compliance initiatives and end user access provide value for the long term, not just during COVID 19.
  2. Get into a new data recovery routine. In best case scenarios, email data protection runs on autopilot. Creating snapshots, administration and other tasks may fall into a rut. Given that backup and data recovery for work from home is taking greater precedence, backup administrators should reacquaint themselves with their backup and recovery platforms and take stock of their current environment. Doing so will accelerate the time to recovery when actual recovery under fire needs to take place.
  3. Cross train team members. Again, backup and recovery is mission critical during this time. Given that administrators also fall into the work from home category (like everyone else!) your organisation cannot become too dependent on one or two people for this task. Life circumstances during the COVID-19 crisis can disrupt everyone, including administrators. That’s why cross training team members on platforms like Mimecast’s Sync & Recover is essential.
  4. Identify threats on inbound communications. The best defense against needing to recover from malicious attacks is a good offense. Make sure that you have adequate threat protection and are scanning for malware and attacks on inbound emails.
  5. Revisit retention policies. Retention policies are often neglected. Those of that us who have retention policies often don’t enforce them, or sometimes even forget about them. To make sure it’s not a bygone activity, identify and understand the reasons for retaining data, whether for business continuity, regulatory compliance or legal defense. Understand the difference between archive and backup retention – the former is for long term retention, while the latter is typically for shorter durations, for recovery purposes. Given the current crisis, you may have to modify current policies—email is often used as a document management system and if data loss is to happen, there may not be other copies of valuable data with new work from home patterns emerging.

The Bottom Line

The events surrounding the coronavirus pandemic may lead some companies to revisit IT policies, but what’s clear is that email has emerged as a clear need for businesses to maintain operations. In the pandemic-driven work from home surge, a renewed focus on data protection has never been more important.

By Garth Landers for Data Protection Magazine

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