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What Is Email And Internet Use In The Workplace?

How Does Your Organisation Manage The Use Of The Internet And Email In The Workplace?

The internet and subsequently email, have been around now since the mind 90’s. Wow time flies!

Both the internet and email have had a massive impact on the way we run our businesses, and of course, in many ways, sped up communications.

That said, there are two-sides to this coin, in that the internet and email have also created problems.

The biggest comes about through inappropriate use of these resources which has resulted in litigation on many occasions.

Further to that, emails can be a huge time suck on your business when employees use it without considering the impact their emails are having on the business overall.

Emails require interpretation of the written word, and this can result in workplace conflicts which if left unresolved, can result in a drop in productivity.

Then there is the unauthorised use of the internet to go shopping online, thus wasting company resources and being slack when it comes to getting work done.

Emails also can be seen as time wasting as often a simple phone conversation can save time and the query can be resolved without all this back and forth between emails.

Internet and email access can be a big problem for your organisation if left uncontrolled which could leave your business exposed to legal risk.

As an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure you have policies and processes in place to spell out the use requirements and monitor actual use against the policy.

Now although that fine to say, there is also the element of privacy as it pertains to the use of the internet and email.

There are some staggering statistics relating to the types of email messages going around in the workplace, in particular:

10% were unsolicited commercial communications

9% disclosed confidential information, were defamatory or otherwise unlawful

4% were bulk mailing

4% contained profanities

2% were joke related, and

2% contained harmful viruses.

When looking at the last example, viruses, in late 2000, the LOVE LETTER virus crippled businesses worldwide. Then there was the MY DOOM virus which infected over 250,000 computers in a single day!

This statistic leaves out all of the other malware Trojans, bugs and worms which also wreak havoc on business computers and their networks.

There are even ways that emails can be tracked by someone outside of your organisation. They can track if a web page has been viewed, an email opened, who reads the email and the location it was viewed. Most of which relies on a small snippet of Java Script Code.

Trojans on the other hand, are usually uncovered inside of a larger application such as a game. Once downloaded, this gives the person who embedded the trojan, access or control over the infected computer. Nasty stuff!

The real kicker is knowing that there is not a great deal an organisation can do to stop the flood of such malware, other than have robust IT policies and systems that have frequent checks for all incoming messages, and educating employees and users of their network, about the risks around malware.

In today’s society, we are seeing an increase in cyber crimes of which even the big banks with incredibly complex systems, are having millions of dollars fraudulently acquired from unsuspecting credit card users. Thus, it is no surprise that cyber crime causes great damage to business as a result of accessing their computer systems.

With this all said, it is the responsibility of a business owner who’s business is connected to the internet, to be aware of the risks and take measures to protect themselves. This might include the mandatory use of virus checking software for every download, educating employees not to share access details, and introducing robust firewalls, and having a redundancy [a back up system] built in should the system go down following a cyber attack.

The net widens when we start to consider the impact of  social media. Think Facebook. There is an increasing risk for employers where their employees defame or otherwise harm other employees by making defamatory statements. This can cast a wider net inside bulletin boards, forums, chat rooms, blogging sites, Twitter and so on. All of which, if proven to be fact in a court of law, can lead to prosecution of not only the employee, but also the employer.

This post could go on for much longer as there’s a great deal that has not been discussed. However, this is not meant to be legal advice nor is it comprehensive. It is merely seeking to educate the reader as to the risks associated with the internet and email in the workplace, in the hope that it will prompt the reader to take action to reduce risks to their organisation and employees.

If you want more information on this and other business related topics, [see if you are eligible] to join the free Better Business Builder Community Forum by taking our quick and easy 60 second eligibility quiz:

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