Restrictive Email Management Policies Creating Hidden Security Risks for Business

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Second part of the Generation Gmail Report by Mimecast reveals that employers must provide flexibility for email users if they are to protect their corporate IP from leaking outside the organisation. This international study investigated how attitudes to work email use are evolving and the differing ways in which employers are managing this core communication channel.

Generation Gmail Management & Email Security Report

Generation Gmail Management & Email Security Report

Email policies need to evolve to reflect the high levels of sophistication amongst email users today and the changing communications landscape within companies.

The report indicates that IT departments are fighting a losing battle in email management when seeking to constrain employees’ behaviour through policy alone. Findings suggest that a new approach is needed in order to empower employees while protecting corporate intellectual property and ensuring the business complies with the relevant regulations.

The research found that information workers want to be able to use email as flexibly in the workplace as they can in their personal lives. When they are unable to work in the way that they want using corporate technology, employees are willing to work around these issues by using their personal email accounts.

The study found that 79 per cent of people send work emails from their personal email accounts, with 1 in 5 saying they do this on a regular basis. Awareness of the email security risks this poses does not seem to prevent this behaviour; 71 per cent of people questioned recognise that there is an additional security risk in sending work documents outside the corporate email environment but 47 per cent still think it is acceptable to send work emails and documents to personal email accounts. The limitations imposed by corporate IT seem to be a major driver for this behaviour with 40 per cent of respondents saying that an unlimited work mailbox would make them less like to use their personal email account for work purposes.

However the research suggests that moving from a ‘controlling’ to an ‘empowering’ environment will not by itself be enough; a technological solution is also needed to ensure compliant email behaviour and reduce the need to ‘work around’ the limitations of corporate email and enable appropriate email management. Email archiving is an essential part of email management as well. Should an original report be misplaced, its recovery is a breeze with properly-managed mail. In a situation where a company experiences high turnover rates, the ability to transfer past emails in a well-organized manner to newbies saves time and money. With this information, new employees can take over right where the previous individual left off.

Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder of Mimecast, commented; “Email policies need to evolve to reflect the high levels of sophistication amongst email users today and the changing communications landscape within companies. Although individuals are seemingly aware of the risks of sending work documents outside the corporate email environment, this awareness is not translating into safe behaviour. A significant proportion still believes that sending work documents to personal emails is an acceptable practice. Getting employees to care about this risk is only part of the solution; employers must take responsibility for closing this disconnect through a holistic effort encompassing email systems, policy and culture. The most progressive companies will be those whose email systems and policies support the needs of both the business and its employees.”

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Phil Confan & Kirsten Beveridge
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