33% of Companies Read Employee Email

I’ve always thought people that use their work email for personal stuff were idiots. Now I guess there is proof I wasn’t just being parnoid. The moral? Get a personal email account and use that instead…

SAN FRANCISCO — Big Brother is not only watching but he is also reading your e-mail.

According to a new study, about a third of big companies in the
United States and Britain hire employees to read and analyze outbound
e-mail as they seek to guard against legal, financial or regulatory

More than a third of U.S. companies surveyed also said their
business was hurt by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing
information in the past 12 months, according to the annual study from a
company specializing in protecting corporate e-mail at large businesses.

“What folks are concerned about is confidential or sensitive
information that is going out,” said Gary Steele, chief executive of
Cupertino, California, company Proofpoint, which conducted the study
along with Forrester Research.

The top concern was protecting the financial privacy and identity of
customers followed by compliance issues and a bid to prevent
confidential leaks. Businesses ranked monitoring for inappropriate
content and attachments as less important.

Steele also said on Friday that more and more companies are
employing staff to read outgoing e-mails of workers who typically have
no idea their correspondence is being monitored.

“It is not something that is broadcast,” Steele said. “There are
organizations where employees think they can say whatever they want to
say and nobody is going to read it.”

The survey gathered responses concerning e-mail security from 406
companies in the United States and the United Kingdom with more than
1,000 employees.

In both regions, 38 percent of respondents said they employed staff
to read or otherwise analyze outbound e-mail. In the United States, 44
percent of companies with more than 20,000 employees said they hire
workers to snoop on workers’ e-mail.

Nearly one in three U.S. companies also said they had fired an
employee for violating e-mail policies in the past 12 months and
estimated that about 20 percent of outgoing e-mails contain content
that poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk.

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