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Email In Business - Content Security, Who Is Looking?

Mar 12, 2008
Email has become vital to business communication and operations. Today, more than 90 per cent of workers cannot function as effectively, or at all, without email. Although widely used as a business tool, many uses of email within the workplace are not always for business purposes. Here are seven steps for determining acceptable use and how to implement a policy in your company.

So, with the popularity of email and the Internet, how can organizations determine appropriate use for business purposes? What are the risks associated with the receipt and dissemination of unsecured, potentially harmful information? How can organizations ensure the productivity gains expected from this technology?

What's at risk?

Email and the Internet can be used to transmit, store or receive unwanted, discriminatory, abusive, obscene, legal or otherwise inappropriate content. This can cause offense to staff and customers, and result in not only costly lawsuits but also criminal prosecution. Without encryption, highly confidential information is also at risk. Data such as company trade secrets, new product design plans and sensitive customer or employee information can be distributed internally or externally.And this can cost organizations millions of dollars in lost revenue as well as customers.

While content security and encryption solutions are important; education of staff is critical. An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) helps to educate all staff on the correct and secure approach to messaging and browsing.

Acceptable Use - Education is Key

One of the first steps for any organization looking to implement an acceptable use policy is to inform employees of their responsibilities and rights regarding the use of company network resources.

Email and web access are business tools and it is important that staff know that there is no privacy for anything created, stored, sent or received on their computers. Staff education and written policy provides a number of benefits, including:

Limited liability if you face litigation over staff misuse

An enforceable Acceptable Use Policy

Voluntary compliance (keep in mind that no filtering technology provides 100% security)

Heightened awareness to prevent accidental virus intrusions or confidentiality breaches

So what should an acceptable use policy look like?

Seven steps of acceptable use:

1. Allow limited personal use of the Internet and email.
2. Outline what is acceptable and what is not; while preserving company culture.
3. Be consistent with enforcement and setting precedents.
4. All email should be identified with a recognized name or email address - avoid spoofing.
5. Copyright - inform staff on copyright issues relating to email or Internet documents - it all belongs to the company, and the company is liable.
6. Monitoring and enforcement as well as timeframes need to be clearly stated in the policy.
7. Reserve the right to monitor all messages/files on the company network.

How can you enforce all of this?

A comprehensive secure email and Internet management solution that integrates content filtering, compliance, secure messaging and archiving for businesses is required. Our solutions protect networks, business assets and employees from incoming, outgoing and internal email and Internet content threats. An organization can restrict, block, copy, archive and automatically manage the sending and receiving of content. This can help prevent time-wasting, high bandwidth eating and unsecured attachments from being sent around the organization.

We work with companies of all sizes to assure their web and email is in compliance with their policy. Our solutions are state of the art, quick to implement, cost effective and provide the comfort to know your data is secure. Visit our website for actual case studies www.enclavedata.com .

You have the responsibility for your company's email, with the right secured gateway you can now also have the control to assure compliance and protect your company's assets.
About the Author
Dan Schutte is President of http://enclavedata.com, specializing in messaging security, web content filtering, anti-spam software, email/IM archival and compliance. Visit our website to read actual Case Studies of how companies have successfully protected their data network and messaging systems.
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