Business Emails: 5 Tips For Ensuring Regulatory Compliance
Sending business emails isn’t something we think too much about, but regulatory compliance is something we should all pay attention to.
As email continues to be among the most used communication and data sharing systems across all businesses and industries, making sure your organization is properly handling all relevant rules and laws in terms of regulatory compliance can be critical in certain scenarios.
Email messages quite often relay business-related data and sensitive information that belongs to both your clients or your own company, which is why ensuring this data is safely and compliantly stored and handled should be among your highest priorities when it comes to business emails and communication channels in general.
Meeting Regulatory Compliance
Making sure that your business email system is in compliance with the regulations involves adhering to laws, rules, administrative provisions, etc; as well as internal policies incorporated and implemented within an organization.
The negative effect of not complying to these rules and regulations can have devastating consequences for a company – ranging from internal company sanctions, to third-party civil liability proceedings (including claims for damages) and/or even criminal prosecutions (including hefty penalties and fines, or even imprisonment); along with potentially long-term damage to one’s business reputation.
Most typically, “regulatory compliance” for business emails involves two notions:
- Legal Compliance – adhering to all the necessary state- and/or industry-based laws, rules and regulations applicable to an organization and its business activities.
- Email Compliance Management – this involves a system, staff and processes regarding proper storing, email archiving solutions and management of emails and data. Some of the practices incorporated in these measures may include training sessions for staff members, monitoring, and documentation.
6 Tips For Ensuring Email Regulatory Compliance
1. Understand That Email Compliance is an Elusive Target
Unsolicited emails have been a topic among the governments worldwide for decades now. Limiting, controlling and regulating unsolicited emails both regular citizens and businesses send, receive, store and process is a hot topic as these types of laws are not easy to come up with nor are they easily enacted. Even when they are successfully drafted and implemented, the landscape across various industries is very dynamic and prone to change (especially from 2003 onward), which means that staying up to date with these regulations is just as critical as creating your own retention policy and complying with necessary regulations.
All these legal measures have a goal to place logical and not-too-intrusive restrictions on how companies process, use, and store their or their clients’ data, which greatly impacts a business’ email and data processing systems and campaigns. The majority of these laws and regulations, including both CCPA and GDPR, involve quite heavy and rigorous regulations on the way organizations collect and utilize this data.
Failing to ensure your company is compliant to all the required regulations and legislations can happen to companies that already have a policy in place, but this policy hasn’t been refreshed according to the newest laws and updates, resulting in penalties, reputation damage, and even in data theft due to low levels of protection or outdated data security processes. The devil’s always in the details.
2. Proceed With an Audit
The first step toward creating an effective email compliance strategy is to perform an audit of your current email system and how it complies to current official regulations in order to see what you are doing wrong, what you are doing right, and what still needs to be implemented. This auditing process should provide you with actionable data in terms of risk assessment and all the following steps toward a complete and functional email compliance strategy.
3. Create and Implement an Email Regulatory Compliance Mindset Across Your Employees
Education and training of your staff is one of the essential aspects of having a working email compliance strategy in place. This mindset should involve topics like data security, sensitive information sharing, security of internal communication channels, proper storing and archiving of email messages, etc. Be sure to cover all the main components of these systems, as well as some seemingly trivial things like logging in/out of various devices, using password managing tools and add-ons, device and drive encryption, multi-factor authentication, etc.
4. Incorporate Proper Business Governance Into All Email Systems
Your email regulatory compliance strategy and system is only as strong as its weakest component. This is why it is crucial to implement these business governance rules across all departments, teams and employees in a firm and consistent manner. The best way to do this is to work closely with your IT team and other staff members to implement your strategy and prevent employees from sharing sensitive data with unauthorized third parties by accident, and therefore reduce breach-based attacks and potential data loss or theft.
5. Consider Opting for a Third Party Email Archiving Solution
Rarely are simple, manual and internal email compliance methods easily implementable and fully operable. In most cases simple email back-up and management systems aren’t checking all the necessary boxes for ensuring proper email regulatory compliance methods. This is why numerous companies choose to outsource this aspect of data security and law adherence by implementing one of the many email archiving solutions available on the market.
These can help you automate almost all the facets of this often tedious in-house task so your teams can devote their time, energy and resources to improving the overall performance of their business and not waste time on this type of technicalities. It can also come in handy in any scenario wherein you could potentially face legal issues due to loss or theft of certain information or sensitive data.
6. Conduct Email Compliance Strategy Audits and Tweaks
Regular audits, tweaks and updates are a great email regulatory compliance practice. Any organization that wants to ensure their business emailing systems are secure and compliant should perform periodic audits in order to detect and identify any potential details that are perhaps no longer in compliance with the current laws and regulations. These do not have to be too frequent, but are recommended, especially if you have a strategy that is perfectly synced with your overall data protection strategy.
Regardless of your business’ industry, niche, location or size, ignoring data privacy regulations can account for a myriad of potential problems for your organization. It is essential that you inform yourself, as well as your employees, about all the necessary laws and rules that apply to the industry your company belongs to, and then use that data to create an effective email regulatory compliance strategy that will keep both yours and your clines’ data safe and protected. Not to mention that you’ll always be ready to properly tackle any kind of legal-based affairs.