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Bi-Directional Data Retention: Everything You Need to Stay Compliant, In-the-Know and Ahead of Undesirable Situations

Aware HQ
6/16/20 9:35 AM

Records retention is a critical piece of any data management strategy. However, not all retention capabilities are created equal. In the case of the digital workplace, single-directional retention is inadequate, whereas bi-directional retention is exceptional.


In this time of widespread remote work, enterprise collaboration tools are the lifeblood of employee communication for many organizations. Platforms like Workplace from Facebook, Yammer, Slack and Microsoft Teams are here to stay. Stay ahead of data compliance by establishing effective retention policies that account for the nuances of digital collaboration.

Not All Data Retention Capabilities Are Equal

Data retention policies serve as the cornerstone of data management strategies. While organizations must retain data in compliance with timelines defined by industry and local regulations, once that period expires it is in the best interest of the organization to purge the data quickly. In fact, privacy regulations like the GDPR and CCPA require data deletion after a specified period of time, typically as soon as your business no longer requires the data. While most companies leverage data retention policies to systematically purge data, they may not realize that some data is not removed completely.

With two-way synchronization of retention policies, organizations can systematically purge data from both the platform and the archive when the time period expires. This ensures complete disposal of the data and protects the organization from data liability. Other vendors who claim to offer data retention capabilities typically focus only on the archived data, ignoring the original data source.

As such, if a retention policy requires data purging after 30 days, only deleting the content from the archive is insufficient. Employees –or malicious actors—can easily scroll back to access conversation and file data within the platform. With bi-directional data retention, your organization can systematically purge the data in both spaces, protecting your company from liability.

Misconceptions of Retention Around Collaboration

Here are a few common misconceptions about records retention and enterprise collaboration.

“All enterprise collaboration tools have retention capabilities.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Retention isn’t always an out-of-the-box function and third-party data retention solutions are often required. While some vendors may boast retention capabilities, they often don’t consider the nuances of collaboration data. Take a closer look to learn whether or not the retention is bi-directional.

"We don't need retention for private messages.”

Organizations are liable for both public and private messages. In fact, Aware’s own research shows that private messages are 144% more likely to contain confidential information than public ones. As of 2018, IBM reported that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. Minimize your risk by ensuring two-way retention for all types of shared content.

“Data management isn’t my problem. I’d rather not deal with it.”

Choosing to overlook a problem doesn’t make it go away. While data becomes outdated as time marches forward, the risk of storing that same data increases exponentially. Communicating on enterprise collaboration tools without records retention opens the organization to serious liability. Consider the risk that comes with holding onto a social security number, birthdate or other confidential piece of information—the longer an organization stores the information, the higher probability of a data leak or breach. Bi-directional retention allows you to manage that risk across both the platform and archive.

Choose Bi-directional Retention For Your Collaboration Platforms

The more data you collect, the higher your organizational risk. One-way retention from only the archive doesn’t protect your brand from insider threats, data breaches and legal liabilities as effectively as bi-directional retention.

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