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Unified Communications Featured Article

December 22, 2009

E-Mail Archiving: Meeting the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 17a-4

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

In an effort to better protect investors from fraudulent or misleading claims by securities dealers, the Securities and Exchange Commission strengthened its rules concerning e-mail and electronic data. Specifically, the commission in 1997 modified Rule 17a-4 of the Securities Exchange Act, which now mandates that companies and employees that are involved in securities trading follow specific emails and electronic data requirements. What’s more, the commission added an order that transaction records be provided for possible review and auditing purposes.

In addition, the National Association of Securities Dealers has similar rules it requires of those involved in securities trading. That includes securities firms, stock brokerage firms, banks and financial institutions that fall under SEC (News - Alert) or NASD jurisdiction.
With e-mail being a top form of communication, financial firms need some help complying with the law. 123Together.com, a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of hosted business services including hosted Exchange and e-mail archiving, provides the help companies need to meet those requirements with its GuardDoc hosted e-mail archiving service.
The law has the following requirements:
Duplicate copies of archived messages
The SEC’s Rule 14a-4 mandates that duplicate copies of archived messages, including e-mail must be stored. One copy must be kept in an online archive and a second copy must be stored offline on tamperproof media, such as the Write-Once-Read-Many, or so-called “WORM” technology. 
Archived e-mail must be dated, time-stamped and serialized
All e-mail messages must have a specific time element assigned to them, according to the updated SEC rule. Messages should also include a unique identification number as a precaution to protect against the possible deletion of information.
Stored data must be searchable
All data that is stored must have an index that can be searched for easy retrieval. The index should be maintained on a storage media that can be used for e-mail messages and attachments.
E-mail and indexes must be downloadable
According to SEC regulations, all e-mail messages and indices must be configured so users can easily download the information to other forms of media.
With 123Together.com’s (News - Alert) hosted GuardDoc archiving service, e-mail messages are archived and stored in their original form. Each message receives a unique number to ensure that messages haven’t been deleted. The company’s hosted archiving service makes sure that every e-mail is stored and indexed for easy retrieval, including the e-mail header, body and the attachments. It offers unlimited e-mail storage for a small, monthly fee. What's more, the service can be set up within minutes from an easy to use Web-based control panel. Users can also access around-the-clock technical support.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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