Office 365

10 Best Practices for a Strong Data Retention Policy

Data retention has become an increasingly important issue for organizations of all sizes. Challenges tend to fall into ...

Data retention has become an increasingly important issue for organizations of all sizes. Challenges tend to fall into three main categories:

  • compliance,
  • data privacy and
  • information security.

A good data retention policy addresses all three of these issues. Taking a proactive approach also reduces the risks associated with compliance violations, data breaches and allegations of privacy invasions.

Key Takeaways

  • Data retention is an important issue for organizations of all sizes, as it addresses compliance, data privacy, and information security.
  • To create an effective data retention policy, organizations should take inventory of their data and identify what needs to be retained, create a plan for purging data, prioritize data security, implement user activity monitoring, monitor third-party vendors and educate employees about the policy.
  • It is important to regularly review and update any policies, and assign a data retention officer.
  • By following these best practices, organizations can reduce the risks associated with compliance violations, data breaches, and allegations of privacy invasions.

Consider these 10 best practices to include in your policy.

Best Practice Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.1. Identify the Data You Need To Retain

The first step is to take inventory of your organization's data and identify what it needs to store. Requirements can vary depending on your industry, business operations and compliance requirements. For example, Nevada healthcare organizations must keep patient records for a minimum of five years.

2. Create a Plan for Purging Data

When the retention time expires, what will happen to the data? Will you continue to retain it, or will you destroy it? Is this a manual process, or do you intend to automate it? Create a plan and then look for tools that can help you streamline the process. Automation often provides the best solution for retention and purging policies.

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3. Prioritize Data Security

Your data retention policy should include safeguards for preventing data breaches and unauthorized access. This might consist of data encryption, physical security measures and data loss prevention tools. Too many companies wait until a breach occurs to make it a true priority. Others might choose to skimp on cybersecurity investments to save money. However, cleaning up after a data breach is always more expensive. Forbes reports an average global cost of $4.24 million per hack.

4. Create Special Policies for Mobile Devices

With the "bring your own device" trend growing in many workplaces, it's essential to have policies covering data stored on personal devices. This data might include work-related emails, contact lists and documents. These mobile devices have a much higher risk of getting lost or stolen. Some companies have addressed this by making it possible to remotely wipe data if an employee's phone or tablet is lost or stolen.

5. Implement User Activity Monitoring

Knowing what users are doing with data is critical in data protection. User activity monitoring tools make it possible to track user behavior and identify any suspicious activity. Managers can also use these tools to enforce data retention policies. For example, if a user tries to download files that your data retention policy marked for purging, the system can block the person from doing so. It can also notify managers.

6. Monitor Third-Party Vendors

Your policy should extend to third-party vendors with access to your data. This data might include customer records and financial information. These third parties should be required to sign contracts outlining their responsibilities for safeguarding data. You should also have procedures to monitor their compliance with these contracts.

7. Educate Employees About the Data Retention Policy

All employees should be aware of the policy and their role in complying with it. The first professionals you should prioritize are data entry staff, customer service representatives, managers and executives. Employees should understand what data they need to hold on to and for how long. They should also know how to access this data and what procedures to follow for purging data when the time comes.

Exchange Migration8. Regularly Review and Update the Policy

Technology is constantly changing and data retention policies must change with it. Compliance requirements can also change on an annual basis. Keeping up requires regular reviews and updates. It's also critical to keep up with changes in data storage methods and new cybersecurity threats. Reviewing the policy every year is often sufficient, but more frequent reviews might be necessary depending on the size and complexity of the organization.

9. Assign a Data Retention Policy Manager

This person is responsible for ensuring compliance with the policy. Job functions might include maintaining records, monitoring user activity and handling data requests. He or she should have a good understanding of compliance, data storage methods and data security measures.

10. Enforce the Policy

Data retention policies are only effective when enforced. This requires setting up procedures for monitoring compliance and taking action when individuals fail to comply. Failing to enforce the policy can put the company at risk of data breaches, loss and non-compliance fines. It can also damage the company's reputation and negatively impact business operations.

Companies can use cloud services to streamline and automate data retention. Upgrading to the cloud is a big step, but it comes with rewards far beyond implementing best practices for your data retention policy. It all starts with committing to the transition. Contact Cloudficient to get started.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast, and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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