What is a legal hold (litigation hold)?

Immutable data for legal reasons What is a legal hold (litigation hold)?

A legal hold ensures that documents and data are available in the event of legal disputes and future legal proceedings to preserve evidence and are not altered, deleted or manipulated. Data subject to legal hold is identified and secured for legal purposes in accordance with the law. The usual retention and deletion periods of an archiving solution may be exceeded during the legal retention of certain data.

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A legal hold, also known as a “litigation hold”, immutably secures documents and electronically stored information (ESI) relevant to litigation and an upcoming trial for evidentiary purposes. This is to prevent the data from being deleted, manipulated or changed later and, in the event of processing, not being available in the desired form. Modern archiving solutions support legally compliant data backup for legal purposes by offering special legal retention settings.

A litigation hold can be costly and difficult for an archiving solution. The legal retention and deletion deadlines are superseded by the contentious retention of the data concerned.

Requirements for a legal hold on an archiving solution

A legal hold places many demands on an archiving solution. In the legal retention phase, the usual rules and deadlines for the retention of certain data are suspended. The modification and deletion of data relevant for forthcoming legal proceedings after a certain period of time, as may be required by legal retention requirements, must be reliably prevented. The storage system overrides applicable data retention and deletion policies during this phase.

Identifying relevant data is a challenge. A wide variety of repositories such as archives, email archives, backups, web transactions, chat messages, mobile devices or cloud backups must be searched and tagged in order to identify the data involved in the dispute. stand out from irrelevant data. Often, the data concerned is kept in special repositories after identification. The process of locating and securing data as evidence in legal disputes is also known as “e-Discovery” (“E-Discovery” or “eDiscovery”).

Various software solutions and storage systems such as Microsoft Exchange or AWS Simple Cloud Storage (S3) offer dispute retention settings and options. For example, important emails can be retained to preserve evidence or data stored in the cloud can be protected from deletion or modification. At the same time, the protected data is accessible to a defined group of people and can be viewed by them.

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