Proof: South Africa’s email isn’t safe

    A Mimecast SA survey of over 300 IT professionals on their company’s email usage has found that South African businesses still regard email as an operational function - a bit like ordering stationary - rather than a business critical one. 

    With 80% of a company’s intellectual property passing through its email server, businesses must take steps to protect themselves.  Not only do the majority of today’s employees need constant email access to do their jobs effectively, but, due to recent changes in regulations and the threat of litigation, companies must have the ability to present forensic audit trails of retrieved emails dating back several years.

    “This survey points out that at least half of SA companies are at risk of non-compliance. Security is still not being adequately addressed and the lack of email archiving capabilities from the majority of respondents is a big concern. The survey confirms our suspicions that staff resort to their private email in the event of an email outage. So much for business continuity!” says Garth Wittles, managing director of Mimecast South Africa.

    The results gave a clear picture of what still needs to be done:


    Security and Data Leak Prevention

    • 68% of respondents are unable to present a full forensic audit trail and repudiation data for an email sent three years ago. This is in direct contradiction of at least eight local Acts.
    • 83% of companies are unable to prevent confidential data being sent via email


    • 46% of companies leave employees to store and delete their email
    • 28% of companies cannot retrieve an email sent three years ago
    • 84% of companies are unable to provide users with adequate archiving and a 10-year view of messages

    Business Continuity

    • 50% of companies’ employees work outside of the office email system once the email server goes down


    The cost of managing email is increasing. “We found that a staggering 82% of respondents said the costs of email security, archival and continuity had gone up in the past two years and yet, via this survey, there is wide spread acknowledgement that their systems remain unable to address some of the basic compliance and security needs of the business,” says Wittles. 

    The answers to the question “How quickly could you retrieve an email that had been sent in your company three years ago?” corroborated the opinion that companies are yet to integrate email policies and technology into a cohesive strategy.

    28% of respondents couldn’t retrieve a three-year old email at all, and  while 36% of respondents could do it in minutes,  this number is reduced within smaller companies with less than 500 seats. This implies that enterprise customers are better prepared to meet compliance standards. 

    “The answers to this question revealed that 22% of respondents can trace an email in hours and 15% in days.  We assume that this 37% are still using tape back-ups which is a security and archiving risk all of its own.  But more shockingly, compare these numbers with the 68% who can’t present a full forensic audit and I have to ask, ‘What’s the point?’ Even if the company can get to the message, they can’t use it as evidence. The business value of retrieving email goes beyond remembering what was said, it is about being able to use the email to defend the integrity of the business.”

    Companies should ensure their annual email spend is supporting the protection of their IP, rather than funnelling the money into a system that just chugs along in an operationally adequate way. 

    The single difference between good email management and great email management is the ability to flexibly enforce security and HR policies across a business’ entire mailbox environment while still providing absolute protection against internal and external threats. 

    “It seems that South African companies still have a fair way to go.  The good news is that Mimecast’s surveys in the UK and US presented very similar findings. Email is baffling a great many companies all over the world. Its reach and power has taken many by surprise and we are all exposed. It’s IT managements job to recognise the areas of vulnerability and implement technologies to protect the business,” concludes Wittles. For a full PowerPoint presentation of all the results please email


    About Mimecast

    Mimecast delivers cloud-based email management for Microsoft Exchange, including archiving, continuity and security.  By unifying disparate and fragmented email environments into one holistic solution that is always available from the cloud, Mimecast minimizes risk and reduces cost and complexity, while providing total end-to-end control of email. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2003, Mimecast serves approximately 4,000 customers worldwide and has offices in Europe, North America, Africa and the Channel Islands.

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