Risky Employee E-Mail Habits Threaten Business - InformationWeek
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11/16/2005
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Risky Employee E-Mail Habits Threaten Business

A new survey shows at-work e-mail usage may be exposing businesses to legal problems, with employees not realizing they're doing anything risky.

Before you hit send, you may want to think twice about the content of your e-mail.

A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Fortiva, shows a substantial discrepancy between employees’ perceived and actual risks. Results of the survey show that 68 percent of U.S. employees who use e-mail at work have sent or received e-mail via their work e-mail account that could place their company at risk. Despite this, 92 percent of these employees do not believe they have ever sent a risky e-mail.

The Harris survey, which examined the e-mail habits of more than 1,000 individuals who use e-mail at work, uncovered a number of issues that should raise concerns for businesses.

A majority of employees who use e-mail at work (61 percent) admit they have used e-mail at work for personal use. Results also show that nearly half (48 percent) say they have sent or received joke e-mails, funny pictures/movies, funny stories of a questionable tone. And 22 percent say they have sent or received a password or log-in information via e-mail.

While 73 percent of the respondents indicated that they are aware of corporate e-mail policies, less than half (46 percent) claimed they always adhere to the policy.

Another concern is the way that employees are storing their e-mail. While 41 percent indicated they would prefer to keep important e-mails indefinitely, most businesses place limits on the amount of e-mail that can be stored. And such limitations may be leading to practices that could jeopardize security. The survey reported that half the respondents have saved e-mail outside the corporate network.

Additional findings showed that employees who earn over $75,000 a year are more likely to save work-related e-mail outside of the company’s network; nine percent of the respondents have used company e-mail to submit their resume to another company; and 22 percent have sent personal details to the HR department, including Social Security numbers, salary details, or medical information via e-mail.

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