eDiscovery Compliance: Ensuring security and mitigating risk 

Posted by Liam Neate on Jan 10, 2024 Last updated Feb 01, 2024

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AI generated man surrounded by files

The world’s businesses are increasingly digital. As more enterprises and organizations undertake digital transformations, the risk of data breaches and security threats increases.

Two critical components of a successful digital transformation are eDiscovery and data migration. Critically, ensuring these processes operate effectively will protect sensitive data and intellectual property while adhering to compliance regulations.

This blog delves into the importance of eDiscovery compliance and security. It outlines the risks and explains how Transvault has successfully completed hundreds of compliant digital transformations, thereby providing you with a starting blueprint for your own approach.

What is eDiscovery?

Electronic discovery or eDiscovery is the process of identifying, collecting, processing and reviewing data as part of a technology migration or legal request. eDiscovery is often described as electronic stored information (ESI) discovery. ESI is defined as any electronically stored data. It can include:  

  • Emails 
  • Documents 
  • Spreadsheets 
  • Presentations 
  • Databases 
  • Voicemails 
  • Social media posts 
  • Website content 

Organizational data is often complexly structured, disparately stored and exponentially growing. This can make it near-impossible for businesses to keep track of all their data manually, let alone find the information when they need it. Fortunately, there are solutions that make this process more efficient and less intimidating. 

Importance of eDiscovery for enterprises and organizations

As more and more organizations conduct business digitally, the amount of electronic information they create and store grows. eDiscovery can help organizations to:

Identify, preserve and analyze data

eDiscovery tools help identify and preserve relevant data. It helps ensure all evidence is available for review and/or production. 

Regulatory requirements, cross-border compliance and legal risk management are often the driving force behind many eDiscovery initiatives, although eDiscovery capabilities go beyond legal requirements. It can be beneficial for knowledge management, internal investigations or business intelligence. It supports streamlined data analysis, allowing businesses to extract valuable insights and make well-informed decisions.

Legal compliance

As you know, enterprises have vast amounts of data. This data is subject to legal and regulatory requirements, such as data privacy laws, federal laws, employment laws or industry-specific regulations.  

eDiscovery enables businesses to ensure compliance and lower the time spent searching for critical information. It identifies and preserves relevant data – which can be crucial in legal proceedings or regulatory audits.

Litigation and investigations

Businesses may face legal disputes, litigation, audits or regulatory investigations at any time. eDiscovery plays a vital role in these circumstances. It helps organizations search, review and produce requested documentation, often within strict timeframes and under the threat of heavy financial penalties.  

Additionally, it helps streamline the discovery process, saving time and effort while reducing the costs associated with manual data collection and review.

Preservation of data integrity

During digital transformations or data migrations, there is a real risk of data loss, corruption or tampering. eDiscovery ensures that relevant data is properly preserved and protected throughout the process. It establishes defensible processes to maintain data integrity and provides a clear audit trail of data activities – critical for demonstrating compliance and for keeping an organization focused on its core commercial objectives.

Find out more about data migrations with Transvault.

How efficient is eDiscovery?

As with any automation, eDiscovery is significantly more efficient than manual data discovery. Historically, manual data discovery has been time-consuming and labour-intensive. It often involved a team of people manually reviewing and searching through significant data volumes.  

This task was made increasingly difficult when working with unstructured data or data with differing formats. Recent M&A events often increase the complexity even further. 

Data cleansing is a big part of what makes eDiscovery efficient. Cleansing data outside its retention policy, duplicate or irrelevant, streamlines the eDiscovery process. 

eDiscovery eliminates the manual nature of data discovery. Its automation and software quickly collects, indexes, searches and reviews large data volumes. As a result, it can significantly reduce the time and costs associated with data discovery.

eDiscovery risks for enterprises

As with any data migration project, enterprises face several risks around eDiscovery.

Data loss

Data loss is the most significant eDiscovery risk. It can result in the loss of critical data needed for eDiscovery purposes. This risk can occur during any stage of the data migration process and depending on the information, can have dramatic outcomes.

Data corruption

When data isn’t properly migrated or the target system is incompatible with the old data, data corruption can occur. This risk can make it difficult or impossible to access data for eDiscovery purposes.

Data integrity

If data is changed or altered during the migration process, issues with data integrity can occur. If data isn’t properly scrubbed or deduplicated before migration, its integrity is questionable.  

Data integrity issues make it difficult to determine data authenticity during the eDiscovery process. This is often pounced upon by opposing counsels during legal proceedings.

Compliance violations

Enterprises must ensure that their data migrations comply with compliance requirements. If not, they risk violating data privacy or security regulations, leading to financial penalties, legal action or reputational damage.

What are the eDiscovery legal requirements?

It’s vital to remember that eDiscovery legal requirements vary depending on jurisdiction and industry. However, there are general principles that apply to every organization. 

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM)

The EDRM provides guidance on the eDiscovery process. Organizations should refer to the EDRM to plan and execute their data migration projects. It helps ensure these projects comply with legal requirements.

eDiscovery and Data Privacy Regulation

Data protection and privacy are at the top of everyone’s agenda. As such, numerous data protection laws and regulations have been introduced over the past decade. Organizations may need to comply with one or all of these regulations. 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – The GDPR is a set of strict requirements for processing the personal data of EU citizens. GDPR still applies to UK-based companies as the UK GDPR came into force as the United Kingdom left the UK.  

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – The CCPA is a California law giving consumers better control over their personal data.  

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – Medical organizations or those that process patient data or records must comply with this US law. It protects the privacy and security of health information. 

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) – The PCI DSS is a set of security standards for organizations processing credit or debit card payments. 

This list is not exhaustive. Due diligence is vital to ensuring that all required data privacy and protection legislation and regulations are met.  

eDiscovery compliance and retention policies

Many data privacy regulations offer guidelines around how long organizations can use, process or store data. Compliance and retention policies will vary depending on the type and nature of data, area of operation and industry.

Here are a few things to consider:  

  • Data mapping – Creating a data map helps identify the source and destination of data elements. In addition, it enables organizations to implement mapping rules for data migration. 
  • Data validation – Enterprises must validate data before migration begins. 
  • Data security – It is vital to ensure that data is secure at every point of the data migration process, preventing unauthorised access or tampering. 
  • Data testing – Once the migration is complete, organizations should test migrated data to ensure it’s accurate and complete. 

Looking for a compliant data migration?

Our specialist team are ready to help

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Have companies been fined or faced legal action for non-compliance due to poor eDiscovery practices?

Some of the world’s biggest brands have paid immensely for non-compliance. Here are just a few examples from the past decade: 

Equifax (2017) – After a data breach that exposed the personal information of over 145 million people, Equifax was fined $575M by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As part of this, the FTC found that Equifax failed to implement adequate security measures and its eDiscovery practices were inadequate. 

Wells Fargo (2017) – After it was found to have opened millions of unauthorised customer accounts, Wells Fargo was fined $100M by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFRB). During the process, the CFRB found Wells Faro had failed to implement adequate eDiscovery practices. This made it nearly impossible to find the unauthorised accounts. 

Johnson & Johnson (2022) – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Johnson & Johnson $2.2B after it was found to have engaged in illegal marketing practices. During the process, inadequate eDiscovery policies and procedures were cited after employees had deleted electronic evidence to conceal wrongdoing. 

These are just high-profile examples. There are countless others affecting companies large and small.  

What challenges are associated with eDiscovery?

Regulatory and compliance requirements aren’t the only challenges associated with eDiscovery. It’s essential to be aware of these complications before you begin the data migration process. 

We’ve already discussed issues surrounding data volume and formats earlier. Another potential issue you should be aware of is Personal Storage Table (PST) files. Microsoft Outlook uses PST files to store emails, contacts and calendar items.  

PSTs are often large and can be difficult to extract data from. Because of this, organizations often face challenges in ensuring these files are accurate and complete without expert help. 

Find out more about our PST Discovery and Migration software – PST Insight or discover PST Migrations with Transvault.

Data migrations and eDiscovery

In the dynamic landscape of data management, the convergence of data migrations and eDiscovery is evident. While these processes can exist independently, they often intersect, creating a need for a unified and strategic approach. 

Integration Dynamics: 

Contrary to being mutually exclusive, data migrations and eDiscovery complement each other. They can function separately, but their combined execution offers enhanced efficiency and compliance. The timing of eDiscovery during data migrations is contingent on the nature of the migration. Different types of migrations may require eDiscovery at various stages, emphasising the need for flexibility in approach.

In specific scenarios, such as litigation-driven migrations, eDiscovery takes the lead, becoming a driving force steering the critical aspects of data migration – authentication, preservation, and integrity. Particularly in litigation contexts, eDiscovery ensures that data is not just migrated but authenticated for legal admissibility, preserved to meet legal hold requirements, and maintained with integrity throughout the process.

This unified strategy aligns the processes seamlessly, allowing for a cohesive strategy that adapts to the specific demands of each migration. A proactive approach involves eDiscovery steering the migration ship, adapting to legal nuances, and ensuring data compliance from authentication to preservation and beyond. 

How does eDiscovery work with Cloud data migrations?

There are several ways to implement eDiscovery as part of a Cloud data migration. One of the most common approaches includes using a Cloud-based eDiscovery platform. Available platforms vary in their offered features, and may have drawbacks, such as the inability to electronically discover PST files.  

Additionally, it’s vital that your data is secure throughout the entire process. In cases where data is transferred to different locations throughout the process or its format is changed, there is a risk of corruption, unauthorised access or loss.  

To address the nuances of Cloud data migrations and enhance eDiscovery capabilities, consider Transvault. Transvault offers a robust solution that transcends common platform limitations, ensuring a secure and seamless transition of your data to the Cloud. With Transvault, you not only mitigate risks but also optimise the eDiscovery process for a more efficient and secure Cloud migration experience. Elevate your migration strategy with Transvault’s proven expertise in overcoming challenges and maximising the benefits of Cloud data management.

eDiscovery Email archive migrations, and the 2006 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

eDiscovery during email archive migrations provides exceptional benefits to enterprises. It improves the efficiency, accuracy, and visibility of email archive management. This can help businesses comply with relevant compliance and regulatory requirements. 

In 2006, the US Government introduced amendments to the 2006 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). These amendments included significant changes to how eDiscovery is conducted in the United States.  

Arguably, the most important addition was requiring all parties in a civil lawsuit to preserve all relevant electronic data, including email archives. This amendment means that organizations must have a plan in place for email archiving eDiscovery for migrations in a way that preserves their eDiscovery value. 

Additionally, organizations must adhere to an additional amendment, ‘Native Format Presentation’. What this means is that, whenever possible, email archives must be preserved in their original formats. It allows data to be searched and analysed in a way consistent with the original form – reducing errors or corruption.

PST migrations and eDiscovery

Returning to PST file formats, as mentioned before, while these are only used by Microsoft Office, Microsoft’s popularity in the enterprise means some extra focus on PST files is sensible. For compliance, businesses must consider these during email and data migrations.  

The files are typically stored locally on a user’s device but can also be stored on a network server or the Cloud. 

During a data migration, eDiscovery exports PST files to a native format, such as EML or MSG. It enables organizations to search and analyze these file types in a way that is consistent with their original form.

Transvault is different. Our PST Insight software: 

  • Is a powerful tool for managing PST files 
  • Helps ensure PST files are compliant with eDiscovery requirements 
  • Allows you to identify, classify, extract, cleanse and migrate PST files 
  • Is simple to use and easy to deploy 

Find out more about PST Insight.

PST quote from Transvault Partner
PST quote from Transvault Partner

Without PST Insight’s ability to scan within the PSTs, we would have needed to pull back 10 times the volume of email data, significantly increasing the data capture time and delaying eDiscovery. It goes without saying, by minimizing what needed to be moved, we also avoided an adverse performance hit on our network.

Scott Hyman Senior Consultant at Integro

Why are there higher risks with PST eDiscovery?

When migrating PST files, organizations must be aware of the inherent risks of this process. Mismanagement of PST migrations can cause data corruption, gaps in relevant information and non-compliance, damaging business, wasting time and increasing costs. 

Unsupported file types

Most eDiscovery tools do not natively support PST files. In most circumstances, migrating files with these tools means converting PST files to another format before they can be accessed or analyzed. This process is time-consuming and often causes data errors or inaccuracies.

Data corruption

The PST file format is more susceptible to corruption than other email formats. Microsoft Outlook uses a proprietary file format that is not well-documented. This means if a migrated PST file is corrupted, it is often impossible to recover the data.

Data volume and decentralisation

PST file management can be complex. This is further compounded when you have a significant volume of PST files. In addition, the decentralised nature of PST file storage makes it difficult to track down, control and migrate these file types. 

Locked Files and Data Security

Locked files can become inaccessible or difficult to migrate, leading to potential data loss or corruption. These files, when not handled appropriately, elevate the risks of unauthorised access and compromise data security.

Journal migrations and eDiscovery

Journal migration is the process of moving mailboxes from one system to another or to the Cloud. It is often done as part of an email migration, archival or larger data migration project.  

Journal mailboxes are complex, and organizations can face multiple technical issues during their migration. When undertaking a digital transformation, it is important to understand that data corruption and partial migrations are risks if not journals aren’t dealt with properly. 

Unlocking Seamless Journal Migrations with Transvault Compliance TimeMachine 

Transvault Compliance TimeMachine: Addressing the intricacies of journal migrations requires a specialised solution, and Transvault Compliance TimeMachine emerges as a comprehensive answer. This powerful and unique solution is designed to navigate the complexities associated with journal mailboxes, ensuring a seamless transition without compromising data integrity.

Key Features and Benefits: 

  • Precision in Migration:
    Transvault Compliance TimeMachine offers precision in migrating journal mailboxes, reducing the risks of data corruption and ensuring a complete and accurate transfer.
  • Compliance Assurance:
    With a focus on compliance, this tool ensures that the migrated data maintains its integrity, crucial for meeting regulatory requirements and legal standards.
  • Risk Mitigation:
    By addressing technical challenges proactively, Transvault Compliance TimeMachine mitigates the risks associated with partial migrations, providing organizations with confidence during digital transformation projects.
Quote from Transvault CEO Darwin Lee
Quote from Transvault CEO Darwin Lee

Our Partners tell us that our Compliance Time Machine technology for journals is just one of the ways that Transvault stands out from its competitors – we were the first migration specialist with this capability and have continually enhanced the solution. Others have been trying to emulate it ever since.

Darwin Lee Transvault CEO

Ensure security, compliance and thoroughness with Transvault’s data migration and eDiscovery

In today’s digital world, it is more important than ever to ensure your organization’s data is secure and compliant. eDiscovery is an essential tool for achieving this goal, but it can be complex. That’s where Transvault can help. 

Transvault is the leading provider of eDiscovery and data migration services. We have a proven track record of helping organizations of all sizes comply with eDiscovery requirements and successfully completing data and email migrations. 

Our PST Insight software is a powerful tool that can help manage your PST files and ensure they comply with relevant regulations. PST Insight allows you to: 

  • Identify and classify PST files 
  • Extract data from PST files 
  • Cleanse PST files 
  • Migrate PST files to a secure and compliant location 

With hundreds of successfully completed migrations, we understand data migration challenges and have the expertise and experience to help ensure your digital transformation projects run smoothly and efficiently. 

If you’re looking for a trusted partner to help with your eDiscovery or data migration needs, contact Transvault today. 

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