Saturday, May 24, 2008

Work for a Big Company? Odds Are Good Your Boss is Reading Your E-Mail: Study

Worried your boss is reading your email at work? Your worst fears may be real. Of 301 large U.S. companies surveyed 41 percent say they hire staff to read and analyze outgoing mail. The numbers come from Proofpoint's annual Outbound Email and Data Loss Prevention survey which conducted the study this past March of U.S. companies with 20,000 plus employees.

Among the businesses surveyed 44 percent said they investigated a suspected e-mail leak of company secrets, 26 percent said they fired people for violating e-mail policies. So much for privacy.

Web 2.0 Privacy Worries

Email is not the only concern among businesses either, according to Proofpoint. Web 2.0 modes of communication such as blogs, message boards, media sharing sites and mobile devices have the boardroom suits quaking in their designer boots too.

According to Proofpoint, 27 percent of businesses have expressed great concern over data loss via mobile device. One in five have expressed concern over data loss by way of employee use of blogs or message boards. And another 12 percent of firms have looked into the confidential information leaks on media sharing sites. Lastly 14 percent of businesses surveyed said they have suffered from electronic data theft or been adversely impacted by other exposure of company information in some way.

E-Snooping = On the Job Stress

It is not surprising in this cyber-connected world we live in that companies are worried about leaks, and the impact on businesses is real enough. However, the idea that your job could be on the line every time you send an e-mail or make a blog post is a little unsettling to say the least.

If you want to see the complete report visit Powerpoint's Web site (registration required), and for the lighter side of e-mail gaffes check out the comments section on this Freakonomics blog post.

CREDIT - PC World contributor Ian Paul

NVDL: The good news is that as blogs become more powerful, and bloggers become more savvy, they can also - using clever software - track, and keep tabs on who is snooping for what, and where it's coming from. Furthermore, while companies have some control over employees with blogs, once they fire these employees (for whatever reason) they run the risk of drawing a shitstorm towards the very sensitive information they've endeavoured to protect, and this can sometimes turn the blogger into a celebrity, and certainly provide a publicity boost for the blog.

An example of counterintuitive corporate muscling/bullying, is when McDonald's sued Helen Steel and David Morris, who were part of a group who were distributing pamphlets in London indicating that McDonald's wasn't healthy. McD took them to court, and lost the PR battle (big company bullying two helpless, good hearted, not well off people). It became the longest running court case in British history, and all McD succeeded in doing was creating a massive PR campaign against themselves, and also providing a larger platform for the activists (TV coverage, acres of newspapers) than their pamphlets were ever going to get.

While Morris and Steel didn't work for McD, it ought nevertheless to serve as a cautionary tale for those companies who might be tempted to press their heels on someone they consider a sitting duck, or an irritating insect, only to find their foot caught in the vice of a crocodile's jaw.

No comments: