Introducing the subject of monitoring employee email to your team can be a surprisingly touchy conversation. But good email security and monitoring employee activity are critically important to keep your business safe.
Unfortunately, when the company email is misused, it can lead to big headaches for the organization. Misuse of company email can lead to public embarrassment, loss of revenue, and can even cost the company money. Take a look at what you need to know about the pitfalls of corporate email misuse and the value of employee monitoring product that monitors both webmail and outlook email activity.
Business Risks Associated With Employee Email Misuse
Could your employee’s email activities be damaging your company?
When you think about the risks of employee email misuse, what do you think of first?
CYBER SECURITY – Perhaps you’re concerned about security breaches. It’s true – security breaches can happen through corporate email. Sometimes corporate email addresses are targeted by scam artists or corporate spies for phishing attempts and other types of email-based scam or hacking attempts.
If appropriate monitoring and security measures are not in place, email can be the window through which a malicious actor gains access to your proprietary data, client data, or other sensitive information, leaving you exposed and potentially liable for losses.
EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT – There are other hazards as well, though. Employee misuse of company email can take many forms. Internal emails that circulate offensive material, such as racist cartoons or sexist jokes, have gone viral in the past, causing no end of embarrassment for the businesses attached to those email addresses. This type of thing can cause the public to lose trust in your organization and to actively avoid it, causing you to lose potential future revenue. By monitoring employee emails – you can close employee misconduct investigations fast by identifying the instigator and the source of office bullying, harassment or unprofessional communications.
INSIDER THREATS & DATA THEFT – It’s a well-known fact that 87% of employees admit to taking data with them (e.g. YOUR CLIENT LISTS) when quit to go to a competitor organisation. And the most common way for them to steal your valuable assets? By emailing it to themselves, either with webmail or even right from your own corporate email.
It’s an unfortunate fact that you can’t assume that your workers will always display good judgment when composing or forwarding emails or when they encounter a potentially suspicious email. Email monitoring tools are your best defense against such behavior. These tools can let you know when a potentially concerning email is sent or received and allow you to prevent or mitigate damage before it becomes overwhelming.
Features to Look for in Employee Email Monitoring Products
The right email monitoring features can protect your organization.
Email monitoring can sound like an overwhelming task. Even if you only have a few employees, you can probably imagine pages and pages of information and logs when you choose to monitor their emails.
But email monitoring doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A good monitoring software tool can allow you to sort through both webmail (e.g. gmail) and outlook email activity in a variety of ways, including by date, user, group, device, whether the email was sent or received, type of email, subject line sender, recipient, and attachment. Outstanding email monitoring software will also allow you to search for specific alert words in emails.
Email monitoring should also allow you to retain copies of emails even if the user deletes them. When malicious actors inside of a company use email to inappropriately share insider information, they usually at least try to cover their tracks by deleting the email. It’s important to have email monitoring tools that allow you to retain copies even of deleted emails so that you have tamper-proof evidence of wrongdoing when it occurs.
To head off emails with potentially embarrassing content, you should be able to set up alerts in your email monitoring tool, so that you get immediate notification if someone using your company’s email attempts to send or forward email messages containing subject matter or trigger words that you wouldn’t approve of.
Another useful feature you should insist on is anomaly detection. When an employee begins using their email in a way that differs from their normal pattern or from the company’s normal routine, that triggers an alert so that you know to look more closely at that employee’s activity.
This covers you in the event that an employee is doing something that you don’t have an alert for, but that could potentially be detrimental to your organization. A change in the normal pattern is often a sign that something is wrong, and looking into it as soon as the change is identified can help prevent bigger problems.
Employee Reaction to Having Their Emails Monitored
You may be wondering about your employees’ reactions to having their work emails monitored. That’s a natural concern, especially since so many of today’s employees do have legitimate concerns about their own personal data privacy. However, one piece of good news is that attitudes toward employee monitoring at work are changing.
The majority of employees are fine with their company using monitoring tools, especially on work devices and when using the company network or other company tools, such as a company email address. It may simply be that most employees expect that their work-related activities are going to be monitored. It may also be that the public’s expectations of privacy are changing in response to a world that’s increasingly connected and recorded. In other words, people don’t have the same expectations of privacy in many situations, such as the office environment.
IS IT LEGAL TO MONITOR YOUR EMPLOYEES’ EMAILS? You are usually well within your rights to monitor employees on company time using company devices and tools, though there may be laws or rules governing how you store and what you do with any personal data you happen to collect, depending upon where you’re located.
Your best bet is to make sure that you have a strong company policy regarding internet and email use that outlines your monitoring policies and procedures and lets employees know what to expect. Employees who know upfront that their emails are being monitored are more likely to be OK with the situation.
More importantly, they’re likely to remember it when they use their email and make their choices about how they use company email with that knowledge in mind. In short, simply having monitoring software and tools in place can lead employees to make better choices with their company email, heading off problems before they can get started.
To find out more about email monitoring and how it can work for your company, start your risk-free 7-day trial.