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More and more business communication is taking place via e-mail, and it has long been common practice for contracts and invoices to be sent only by e-mail. This speeds up and simplifies communication, especially in times when home offices is very popular. At the same time, many of those involved are not aware that those who do not archive their company e-mails in an audit-proof manner will end up in hot water faster than they think.
What you better pay attention to in order to stay on the (legally) safe side and how you can establish legally compliant and at the same time comfortable processes in your organization with the open source solution Benno MailArchive, you can read in the guest article by Ansgar Licher from our partner LWsystems.
Recently, customers have increasingly reported that tax auditors have demanded to see their companies’ e-mail archiving. The authorities are paying more attention to this than in the past. The fatal thing about this is that few topics are treated as neglected in IT as e-mail archiving. However, if you don’t take care of it, you’re not just making some kind of mistake; in the worst case, you’re committing a crime.
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According to the GoBD, companies in Germany are obliged to archive e-mails in an audit-proof manner – regardless of the industry and size. The GoBD specifies the principles for the proper management and storage of books, records and documents in electronic form, as well as for data access.
Unfortunately, companies repeatedly make mistakes as well as misjudgements when it comes to mail archiving, which can have serious consequences. The most common are:
Misconception 1: It is enough to archive everything in folders in my e-mail program.
Correct is: E-mails collected in the mailbox, in an archive folder or the Outlook auto-archive function do not replace proper e-mail archiving. The reason: The e-mails are neither stored in an audit-proof manner, nor does this storage meet the requirements of the GoBD.
Misconception 2: We are top organized, because we have copies of the e-mails on our servers.
Correct is: This approach is not a solution. As a rule, these copies are not audit-proof. And even if they were, it would still have to be possible to check and verify that they are unchanged, even after ten years.
Misconception 3: I have already purchased an e-mail archiving solution. I am on the safe side.
Correct is: It is not enough to just purchase software or an e-mail archiving solution. In addition to the technical implementation, the organizational environment must also be right. Both must also be documented by means of procedural documentation.
What sounds complicated can be solved for example by a professional e-mail archiving like Benno MailArchive. The open source software archives incoming and outgoing e-mails as well as their attachments unchanged. This happens “on the fly”, additionally the text contents are indexed in full text and made findable – independent of the file format of the attachments. The result is tamper-proof, clear and GDPR- and GoBD-compliant e-mail archiving.
Who has concerns that a software for e-mail archiving negatively affects the existing IT infrastructure, can relax with Benno MailArchive. As with every open source solution the interfaces are open, so that Benno MailArchive can be integrated with any e-mail or groupware solution. The solution supports all current e-mail standards and concepts. Among other things, e-mails can be transferred via connectors for POP3, IMAP and SMTP as well as Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365/Exchange Online or via a Milter plugin for Linux-based mail servers.
At the same time, simple user administration is possible via the Univention Corporate Server (UCS) – this can replace an existing Active Directory (AD) or is seamlessly integrated with it. UCS is also the guarantor for a quick and easy installation of Benno MailArchive. For this, the open source software is installed as an app in the Univention App Center with two mouse clicks. Good to know: Benno MailArchive fits seamlessly into any existing groupware running on UCS. If your groupware does not use UCS, Benno MailArchive can still be connected to it.
Ansgar Licher is managing partner of the Benno MailArchive manufacturing company LWsystems GmbH & Co. KG. He has been involved with IT and related compliance issues for many years. Benno MailArchive has been his personal hobbyhorse for over 15 years. His heart beats for Linux and Open Source IT solutions.