Email Usage Reporting Is A Great Business Tool

While spam and malware might get the most press, data leakage can be far more damaging to a company. Loss of intellectual property may be costly, but loss of your customers’ sensitive data entrusted to you can destroy your company’s reputation. But unless you want to stop and read each and every outbound email, what can you do to see if you even have a problem?

Email usage reporting is the answer to that. Email usage reporting can “mine” your email archive to help you gain a deep and detailed understanding of how your email system is being used, without having to snoop on your users or read through their private messages.

Email usage reporting works in conjunction with your email archiving solution. With all the company’s email securely stored in your archive, email usage reporting sifts through the tons of data available to build up an intelligence database of just how your email system is being used.

You can determine email patterns, response times, who the heavy users are, and more. You can use this data to get an in-depth understanding of just how your users interact with one another and with your customers, vendors and even your competitors.

Email usage reporting can help you learn which teams communicate the most between them, which don’t communicate at all, and who the key communicators are both internally and externally. By flagging communications with your competitors, you can get early insight into any personnel issues, or NDA violations, before they become full blown security incidents. Here’s a list of some of the key things email usage reporting can provide to you:

  • Communications patterns
  • Responsiveness
  • Heaviest internal users
  • Heaviest external users
  • Attachments and storage

You can do even more with email usage reporting. You can flag keywords, to identify whether or not someone is emailing the competition about Project Xanadu or setting up an interview. You can also search for personal identity information (PII) like credit card numbers or social security numbers which should never be sent out in an email. You can also search for inappropriate content, to help keep business communications on a professional level.

It’s those reports on PII and keywords that make email usage reporting so useful, and can help you identify when you have a data leakage issue before it becomes a data flood issue. By automating and scheduling these reports, and working with someone involved in compliance, you can ensure that the critical trade secrets, customer proprietary information and the company’s reputation are all protected, without ever having to violate a user’s privacy or read through another person’s inbox.

Having the email usage reporting data in hand, you can evaluate the overall use of your email system and identify any patterns of communication or key words that point to an information leakage problem. Knowing a problem exists is the first step towards solving it.

Email usage reporting is a great business tool and can help you determine if you have a data leakage problem before it becomes a critical incident. If you are considering an email archiving solution, make sure to factor in email usage reporting to get the most of the solution, and your email system.

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Emmanuel Carabott CISSP heads security research at GFI Software. He has over 12 years’ experience in the security field and is a regular contributor to several websites and blogs. For more information about the benefits of using email usage reporting.