“Social messaging and file-sharing content left unmanaged in one third of firms” states Iron Mountain/AIIM study

Any lack of information governance for digital channels increases the risk of a data breach and reputational damage

Any lack of information governance for digital channels increases the risk of a data breach and reputational damage

Despite the fact that the use of digital communications and collaboration platforms is growing faster in businesses than among consumers1, around one-in-three organisations has no-one responsible for governing the content of instant messaging (39%), mobile (32%), social media (28%) and cloud-sharing content (33%).

According to a new study2 sponsored by storage and information management firm Iron Mountain and undertaken by AIIM (the global community for information professionals) among information professionals, just under one-in-ten organisations is failing to regulate well-established information types such as e-mail, customer data and public website content.

With text-based messaging now constituting a formal record and subject to the same data protection, compliance and retention requirements as paper and electronic-based business documents, the lack of effective monitoring and accountability could have a significant impact on information security and compliance.

The data shows the volume and variety of information presently moving through these new channels. In Europe, the average company now uses 37 different file-sharing services and 125 collaboration services, with four million businesses worldwide making use of Dropbox3.

In addition, companies are still struggling with older channels of communication like e-mail, with a combined total of 121 e-mails per day being sent or received by employees last year.

As content posted and distributed through these new channels can be implicated in legal disputes such as insider malpractice, leaks of confidential information or in breaches of acceptable use, it’s vital that it’s not overlooked by information governance regimes within businesses.

Applying a retention rule

“Content management, storage, retention and retrieval policies need to be applied as rigorously to information created and distributed through these new channels as they should be applied to the more traditional data sets and paper records,” urged Sue Trombley, managing director in professional services at Iron Mountain.

“However, this isn’t always going to be an easy task. The challenge of determining which social messages constitute a record and applying a retention rule is going to appear overwhelming for many businesses already overloaded with growing volumes of information in multiple formats. Any failure to take on the challenge is going to expose many an organisation to unacceptable levels of risk.”

Iron Mountain and AIIM recommend making use of the following checklist to ensure all information is managed responsibly within an organisation:

*Ensure every type of content has an owner: allocate responsibility to records and information management, IT, legal/compliance, marketing or Human Resouces, for example

*Segment and prioritise content and focus on high priority/sensitive/confidential records

*Rigorously implement data capture, retention and deletion policies

*Automate the retention and deletion policies

*Implement an ECM/ERM system to replace informal online file shares

*Create and communicate clear employee policies and guidelines

*Outsource data management and storage if required


1Radicati Group 2014


3Data from Radicati Group 2014, Dropbox and Business Cloud News (21 October 2014)


About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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