Companies wide open to e-mail abuse

Nearly
70 per cent of IT staff would open an e-mail they suspect to be inappropriate,
finds research.

A
further 42 per cent make matters worse by willingly circulating the offensive
material to colleagues and friends – risking disciplinary action and damage to
their firm’s reputation.

SurfControl,
experts in e-mail filtering and content management, commissioned the NOP survey
to examine the attitudes towards e-mail use by 100 professionals from each of
the UK’s seven largest employment sectors. These are accountancy, the civil
service, financial services, legal, retail, manufacturing and IT.

The
survey reveals that although many IT staff will carelessly circulate
potentially career-damaging e-mails, 66 per cent admit to knowing that any
personal comment or material sent from their work e-mail address is the equivalent,
in legal terms, of writing and posting the message on department letterhead
paper. 

SurfControl’s
CEO, Steve Purdham commented: "All internet content that enters,
circulates and leaves any company’s network carries a risk.

"The
results from our survey are genuinely startling. It is clear that businesses
face a real challenge in educating IT staff on the risks e-mail misuse poses,
while IT staff, in reality, should know better.

"The
first step is for the HR department to devise an acceptable use policy,
communicating to all employees what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate
e-mail use.

"The
next step is to involve the IT department in looking at ways in which
sophisticated filtering technologies can minimise the corporate risk attached
to harmful and unnecessary internet content and help enforce the company’s
policy."

By Ben Willmott

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