If you work in US for a reasonably sized company, using their computer network (internet) for personal usage or for something which compromises the company, like sending corporate information to non-company employees, is not a very bright idea. All your personal stuff on their network bandwidth gets read and archived, and anything that threatens the company can get you thrown out of there.
In fact, in the financial services sector it is very common to have dedicated staff to perform this function. For licensed brokers, the SEC requires that a certain percentage (~33%) of all outgoing emails be monitored. Dedicated staff support the system used at a large financial services firm for just this task, and the people who had to read these emails don’t do it because they enjoyed invading other people’s privacy. Their biggest wish was a spam-filterish tool that would remove all the personal emails so they would only have to read the emails that were pertinent to the business.
In a recent research conducted, outbound e-mail remains a key source of risk for U.S. enterprises with a record 44% of surveyed companies reporting that they investigated an e-mail leak of confidential information in the past 12 months. 41% of the largest companies surveyed (those with 20,000 or more employees) reported that they employ staff to read or otherwise analyze the contents of outbound e-mail. 22% of these companies said they employ staff primarily or exclusively for this purpose. Other key findings in the survey include:
* 40% of companies surveyed investigated an e-mail-based violation of privacy or data protection regulations in the past 12 months.
* 26% of companies surveyed terminated an employee for violating e-mail policies in the last 12 months.
* 23% of U.S. companies surveyed said their business was impacted by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in the last 12 months.
* 34% of the largest companies (20,000 employees or more) reported that employee e-mail was subpoenaed in the last 12 months.
E-mail is not the only source of risk for information leakage. Respondents to the survey indicated significant risk resulting from employee use of blogs, message boards and media sharing sites (such as YouTube), as well as mobile devices. Some of the key findings include:
* 27% of companies surveyed had investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information from lost or stolen mobile devices in the past 12 months.
* 11% of U.S. companies surveyed disciplined employees for improper use of blogs/message boards in the past 12 months.
* 13% of surveyed companies disciplined employees for social network violations and 14% for improper use of media sharing sites in the past 12 months.
* 14% of publicly traded companies surveyed had investigated the exposure of material financial information (such as unannounced financial results) on blogs or message board postings in the last 12 months.
Don’t use your work email for personal stuff. It was never a good idea, and it’s becoming ever less of a good idea. Don’t say anything in an email that you wouldn’t say in person or in writing. Be professional.
Also, don’t forward chain letters, don’t send around forwards of kitten pictures, pr0n, jokes, political screeds, etc. etc. Most people don’t want to get it and you’re wasting bandwidth.
However, on the flip side, here is a humorous take on emails, with one guy responding – Where I’m at I’m lucky if I can get anybody at all to read my email. Especially my boss.