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Preserving the integrity of email items during migration projects

29 Jan 2015 by Orlaith Palmer

If we thought for a moment about the emails we send during the course of our employment at a company, we’d quickly realize just how sensitive our email archives are. Expense claims, acquisition plans, internal presentations, the names of anonymous clients, personal correspondence with HR departments – all items we’d prefer not to wind up in the wrong hands.

When migrating these email items to new platforms such as Office365, you naturally need to ensure their content won’t leak during the process. But consider the unfortunate possibility that illicit activities, such as insider trading, have been conducted at your company. These email archives then become not only a potential clue, but also the possible scene of the crime.

Much like DNA evidence, you need to ensure emails haven’t been ‘contaminated’ which would render them unusable as permissible evidence in a litigation case. In order to prove these email items are valid, you will need to show that they haven’t been altered in anyway through a full audit log of interactions with the items in question. If a more historical case is being investigated, during which email items have been migrated to a new platform before the case came to light, you will still need to prove the content within them hasn’t been tampered with during the interim.

Our approach to tackling this is through the generation and storing of an MD5 hash when we export an item. This process records/hashes elements like subject, body and recipient properties to ensure they are accurate before and after migration. This hash is compared and assessed upon ingestion to prove there has been no modification or unseen interaction with the items during their journey.

While some may consider the advantages of a selective migration (selecting items you want to migrate from an index) the reality is if this index doesn’t contain all the items you want to migrate, you won’t migrate them which may mean essential evidence becomes lost. Ensuring you migrate everything (including BCC and other metadata) helps retain the total integrity of email items and their subsequent value as evidence in any legal proceedings.

Learn more about how our Advanced Ingestion Protocol provides a safe, fast migration.