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Why You Should Not Use Company Computers for Personal Email

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Employers, especially in the U.S., can get into costly trouble over email — including private messages sent by employees using company computers and network.

This makes it prudent for companies to monitor everything you do on your work computer — and how you communicate in particular. Not only are certain web sites filtered out and your other web activity protocoled minutely; all the emails you send and receive are scanned as well. Routinely, but especially if any legal problems can be foreseen, all mail is archived and catalogued.

In 2005, for example, 1 out of every 4 U.S. companies cancelled employment contracts for misusing email according to an AMA/ePolicy Institute survey.

Do Not Use Company Computers for Personal Email

When the company watches your every keystroke, you should as well.

  • Do not use your company computers, email account and outgoing mail server for private emails.
    • If you have your work email account set up at home, use a separate account for private messages. Make sure that private accounts uses a different outgoing (SMTP) server (typically your internet service provider's) to send mail.
    • Free email services are reasonably private. Do not use them on company computers or the company network (say, Wi-Fi) for private mail, though.
  • You cannot expect any privacy for mail that touches company infrastructure: computers, wired or wireless networks or email (SMTP, IMAP, POP, Exchange, Notes) servers.

Outside the U.S., email privacy at work may be different. In EU countries, for example, the situation is almost the opposite: companies can get into trouble monitoring employee communication. Do not rely on that, though!

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