What is the proper use of business or corporate email today?

The other day I spoke with an employee of one of my corporate customers. The person I spoke with was a little indignant that a personal email message from a family member did not come through and it was really important.

It has become common place for employees to use their business email account(s) to accept personal email from family, friends, and even personal mailing lists that they subscribe too. In my opinion this is a practice that small businesses and even corporations need to address.

While I haven’t personally seen any statistics on what percentage of email that runs through a corporate network is personal vs. business, I’m guessing that stats would be fairly high.

As part of the service I provide to my business customers, I work diligently to ensure that all business email gets to its intended recipient(s) and will troubleshoot specific accounts when an issue might arrive from time to time.

As the Internet and email continue to evolve, it is becoming more and more important for email servers to be RFC compliant. This helps to minimize SPAM loop-holes and ensures that email servers are configured to standards for communicating with one another.

With all that being said, businesses need to take a closer look at how employees use corporate email. With the proliferation of Gmail, Yahoo Mail, MSN Mail, HotMail, and all the other free email services, there is really no need for an employee to use a corporate email account for personal use.

Here are some things to consider with regard to the use of corporate email accounts and personal use:

• Network Bandwidth – While this is probably minimal, personal use of corporate email uses network bandwidth and other network resources.
• SPAM – Personal use of a corporate email account could get a corporate domain name blocked for spamming. If this occurred, email for an entire company could be disrupted. (I’ve seen this happen on several occasions)
• Technical Issues – Should a company spend time / resources troubleshooting personal email issues? This happens just as I mentioned above.
• Viruses – The personal use of corporate email only increases the likelihood of viruses and other web initiated PC and network attacks.
• Personal Information – While many employees might not consider this one. Personal information or email correspondence could be exposed in the event of a network audit. I’ve seen cases where servers and email communication for an entire company were subpoenaed by a court.

While this is just scratching the surface of this issue, it’s an issue small businesses and corporations should take another look at.

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