Introducing Email Navigator: Our Unmatched Data Discovery Method

Kobi Nissan
Kobi Nissan
Feb 2, 2023
min read
Introducing Email Navigator: Our Unmatched Data Discovery Method

As technology advances and data streams grow, data privacy technology shoulders a bigger and bigger burden to help organizations keep it all in check. Data privacy platforms like MineOS are expanding the available arsenal of tools to manage various aspects of data privacy, protection and governance. However, not every tool is created equal.

We’re here to set the record straight and detail why our technology is years ahead of the competition in data discovery.

The Data Privacy Picture

Data subject request (DSR) handling and consent management are major parts of helping companies stay compliant with various data regulations and be transparent with customers about data usage, but both are truly unlocked once you have data mapping in place. 

First, where do you start? How can you make sure you’re properly handling DSRs if you don’t know what systems you’re using and hold user data in? It’s incredibly challenging to be transparent with customers about data usage if you don’t have a bird’s-eye view of your company’s data picture. 

That’s why, in the evolving landscape of increased SaaS usage and stricter data regulations, data mapping should act as a guiding blueprint in any company’s privacy program. 

Arguably the main reason why data mapping is not currently in that position on a widespread basis is because it is hard. It’s very, very hard when using traditional methods. 

Data Discovery: the key to driving data mapping

Existing data mapping solutions are slow, expensive, resource-intensive, and often produce results that are almost immediately outdated or nowhere close to 100% of systems companies are actually using. 

When we set about building the core of MineOS, we spoke to hundreds of data privacy users and almost all gave us the same complaints about data mapping. They noted how incredibly complicated and time-draining it was to go to departments and track all the systems they were using or had used, and they almost always required major assistance from the IT team, which in turn took their attention away from pressing IT tasks. The worst part was they’d spend months doing this, but without checking in daily with every department–an impossibility–the threat of shadow IT always loomed.

The data mapping stack Mine has put together is revolutionary and designed to mitigate these issues. 

We’ve already outlined how our solution has innovated data classification with our Continuous Data Classification and Smart Data Sampling, and here we’re aiming to do the same with the process of data discovery. Simply put, you need to find the vast majority of data systems your employees are using or have used to get a full view of your data map. 

If you don’t, not only will you be drawing incorrect conclusions from an incomplete data set, but undetected systems pose a very real threat if they are breached. This is especially true given that major data regulations require timely data breach notifications, and if a breach occurs through a system you don’t have mapped out, you may not even realize what happened until it’s too late.

To accomplish that and keep companies in control, we’ve put together an industry-changing development: Email Navigator 

What is Email Navigator?

Our Email Navigator is a unique option that only Mine offers when it comes to data discovery. Alongside standard SSO, cloud scanning, and website scanning options for data source discovery, Email Navigator is another, more thorough option to help companies track down over 90% of the systems they are using.

Email Navigator has been in the works for several years now, the very same patented technology that has powered our B2C operation and helped over 4 million people discover and recover their digital footprint through over 50 million DSRs facilitated with Mine’s help.  

While we offer the industry standard methods of SSO and cloud and website scans, those methods often combine for less than 50% coverage of data systems (average coverage comes in between 30-40% using these methods). Our Email Navigator’s capabilities are simply on another level, as it can discover much closer to 100% of data systems by itself, dwarfing the reach of the other options.

Most data privacy software tends to favor SSO for data discovery, but it has multiple flaws (beyond limited coverage) that detract from its accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

  • You can’t log into every data system and application using a provider
  • If employees sign up for a SaaS and then forget about it or stop using it, the system will lie dormant and undetected, all the while the data risk increases.
  • SSO does not handle employee offboarding well, instead requiring privacy professionals to manually remove permissions and systems former staff used

How does Email Navigator work?

Email Navigator operates by connecting the organization’s email workspace for Mine’s AI to scan. Our AI only goes through email metadata, such as senders, recipients, and subject lines. The technology does not store any parts of the email, and it does not access or process the body of emails.

When the Mine engine scans metadata, it does so in-memory only (no storage - a security plus) and assesses it to find third-party services your employees are using and include them into the resulting data mapping report. More importantly, Email Navigator will find systems staff are no longer using to help combat the risk of shadow IT.

These email scans, which again, only go through metadata, look for things like invoices, user invites, and other signs of activity such as the frequency of emails from a sender to accurately identify systems in use. 

What are the benefits of Email Navigator?

By adding email scans in addition to SSO or cloud and website scans, you can get a complete view of your organization’s data that you wouldn’t otherwise get with the traditional methods. Mine’s Data Discovery can infer virtually everything about a system’s use by the number of emails they’ve sent users, the recency of the emails, and the nature of the emails, i.e. marketing vs payment.  

DPOs and staff using Email Navigator can also glean “power users” of SaaS systems. By “power user,” we mean the employee who has admin access to that system, letting DPOs know who to go to when they need to find out why and how systems are in use. 

Not only does identifying power users make communication clearer within an organization, it also helps group data since the AI can extrapolate certain processing activities based on the power user’s role within a company. For example, someone in the marketing department is likely going to be doing marketing and not cybersecurity activities within SaaS systems they have access to.

Is Email Navigator safe?

As a data privacy company ourselves, we understand the importance of handling data with the utmost care and have built the system to ensure security and confidentiality. We take privacy and security concerns and considerations seriously and would not use this technology if it posed an imminent risk.

Our Email Navigator technology is backed by our suite of cybersecurity tools and industry best practices fully outlined here

Among other security standards, we practice data minimization ourselves, we undergo frequent audits to ensure compliance, and we constantly monitor our application and data centers’ security.

Data minimization, a core of modern data regulations, is particularly important to us. Mine’s AI simply aims to identify systems accurately for companies to keep better track of their data dispersion, which is why scanned email metadata is never saved.  

Is this a necessary feature of MineOS?

As with new technologies, Email Navigator is something customers are not accustomed to since there isn’t anything like it available. We offer it because it’s revolutionary at its speed, and ensures no data goes undiscovered. 

If you do have concerns however, you don’t have to use it. We believe the most thorough data source discovery possible is the basis for modern data mapping, which is why we offer multiple options for how to discover data systems as mentioned above: SSO, cloud scans, website scans, and our Email Navigator. 

While you can choose the method(s) you use for data discovery, a multi-method approach results in the optimal scan and ensuing data map. That’s because you can use one method to canvas and put together a general picture of your data map and then use a second to drill down into specific systems to uncover all the data it holds. 

Imagine it like coding: the first code you write will set a baseline, but will be far from complete. You need to go through after and refine it to get it working ideally.

We’ve had several customers initially uneasy about Email Navigator because of its novel approach, but everyone eventually became a believer once they tried it for themselves they saw how quick and efficient it is at identifying data systems and how unobtrusive it is for their staff. 

Why don’t competitors have Email Navigator?

Email Navigator was not an easy system to design and build. It took the Mine team years to build and perfect. And beyond that, not just any privacy team will be capable of building something so unconventional.

Our background in the data privacy industry is one-of-a-kind, as our B2C experience has helped us operate faster and simpler and with more of a connection to what people not only need, but want from compliance software.

Mine has always taken an innovative rather than an imitative approach to solving data privacy’s most pressing issues. Thanks to this guiding philosophy, we’ve been able to create a unique and valuable solution that other platforms simply aren’t able to match at the moment.