Corporate Email Security

Written by Gregg Ruais
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When the email revolution began, the advantages of electronic mail were so clear and overwhelming that companies did not even hesitate to spend thousands and even millions of dollars to get their corporate email accounts up and running. The mentality was to obtain email and then figure out how to maximize its use. Without question, companies are better off now than they were without email. However, we are still light years away from reaching optimal communication efficiency.

Some software companies report that 40 to 70 percent of all the emails sent from corporate accounts have nothing to do with business. Employees regularly use their company email addresses for personal use, reducing their individual productivity and forcing companies to purchase additional bandwidth. Many people use their work accounts as their primary email addresses. They use their time at work to correspond with friends, make weekend plans, and even seek employment at other companies.

Even inter-office email has become a forum for entertainment. Many workers make it a daily ritual to send jokes to their coworkers. If the jokes are funny, the recipients forward them to the employees who weren't on the original emails. Eventually everyone becomes part of the mailing list, and this behavior becomes the norm, as commonplace as any other office tasks.

Simplicity of Email is the Danger

The primary benefits of email include ease of use and fastidiousness, which are also the reasons people abuse company email accounts so often. Forwarding a joke literally takes one second. Employees can simply look over their shoulders, make sure nobody is watching, and then click send. If someone's supervisor is at a meeting, what's to prevent that person from scouring the Internet or composing lengthy emails completely unrelated to work?

The vast majority of employees are smart enough to exclude their bosses or senior-level management from their joke mailing lists, especially if those messages contain questionable content. Most people know which managers and employees will take issue with misuse of company time and resources. Thus, many upper-level managers have no idea how many inappropriate emails are sent. After all, who has the time to sift through thousands of archived emails?

Email Security Threats and Email Solutions

In addition to the problem of wasted resources, senior managers have to worry about the very real liabilities involved with corporate email accounts. Not all employees know about HR policies and intellectual property laws. Any individual with a company email account could potentially send confidential information to the wrong people. This could lead to lawsuits, loss of intellectual property, and the possibility that someone will have to be terminated.

Fortunately, there are viable software solutions that can make it simple and cost effective to monitor employee emails on a daily basis. This isn't to say that managers will have to read every single word of every email their employees send. These software programs are designed to provide automated detailed reports that help pinpoint potential problems before they become major issues. This results in phenomenal ROI for two reasons. Communications efficiency increases, and email liabilities nearly disappear.

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