Evertrust Eases Expunging

Is your data putting you at risk? Get rid of it, with help from Evertrust.net

July 8, 2003

4 Min Read
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Would-be Jack Grubmans, take heart: There's a way to ensure the demise of all those nasty emails and damning documents -- legally, no less.

Storage startup Evertrust.net says its new Advanced Encryption Standard (AEstor) software, which it plans to officially unveil tomorrow, prompts administrators to destroy data at the end of a legal record-retention period, whether its stored on tape, disk, or optical media.

The business news is full of stories about companies being searched by lawyers for what Evertrust.net calls "electronic smoking guns" (see Data Protection and IM Gets Regulated). Of course, it's important to comply with regulations that make data available for legal discovery, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But Evertrust.net insists getting rid of data once it's outside the legally accessible period is equally important. Who wants to add fuel to a legal fire?

“If you have a discovery motion brought against you, you have to show everything, even if it’s in deep storage,” says Evertrust.net CEO Thomas Gosnell. “When the retention period has expired for digital files, it’s very important that they are disposed of.”

Getting rid of data isn't as easy as just hitting the delete button in Word. While physically removing documents stored accessibly online is no problem, Evertrust.net claims it is often so difficult to locate files retained offline, that the only way to delete them is to destroy the entire disc or tape they reside on. This is not only costly, but also impractical, the startup says, since companies tend to have a number of different documents with different retention periods on a single tape or disk. Finding copies of expired documents backed up at numerous locations also poses a significant challenge.AEstor addresses this problem by putting digital fingerprints on each document, allowing administrators to track how long a file has been in storage, and when it needs to be deleted. Once the retention period is up, administrators with proper clearance can physically remove accessible online data or scrub the encryption key for documents that are not accessible for physical destruction, thus rendering them illegible.

Since AEstor uses AES encryption standard with 256-bit keys, Gosnell insists there’s no way of breaking it. “This ensures effective elimination,” he says. “We leave the information there… but the asset can no longer be reconstituted.”

At least one analyst says Evertrust.net isn't doing anything new. “I don’t think it’s anything earth shattering. A lot of archiving products offer the deletion at the end of the retention period,” says Sara Radicati, analyst at The Radicati Group Inc. consultancy. Big industry players like KVS Inc. and Legato Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: LGTO) already have similar products (see Legato Mines Iron Mountain and EMC, Iron Mountain, KVS Archive Email). “But it’s great to see another company enter this space. We think it’s a very, very important space, and it’s great to see more choice,” Radicati says.

The Radicati Group estimates the archiving market is currently growing by 85 percent a year and forecasts growth from $164 million this year to 1.5 billion by 2007.

Evertrust.net hopes to avoid going head-to-head with large market players on direct sales. Instead, Gosnell says, the company is in the process of wooing storage vendors to integrate its software into their existing products, Gosnell says. But the Lafayette, Calif.-based startup has yet to sign up a single OEM partner for AEstor.OEM partners can purchase the software either as an Evertrust.net service, or they can buy a license per terabyte of storage. The service, which includes putting the document under storage with an electronic fingerprint, tracking it through its lifecycle, and deleting it when the retention period is over, costs a minimum of $500. The licensing fee for one terabyte of storage, meanwhile, costs $15,000.

AEstor has been in beta test with "dozens" of OEMS for the past year and has been available for the past six weeks. Gosnell insists the prospects are good. “It’s looking very promising, but the money isn’t in the bank yet,” he says. In addition, Evertrust.net has upgraded some of its present customers, including those that use its EvertrustWeb software to track Website data, to include the AEstore software.

The company, which was founded by Gosnell and executive vice president Robert Delemore with a personal investment of half a million dollars in November 2000, is not now looking for any outside funding, Gosnell says.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Byte and Switch

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