A new survey has found that nearly half of all UK employers allow unrestricted or unmonitored employee access to web-based email services such as GMail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. This is potentially leaving them vulnerable to viruses, information leaks and other unwanted content because this traffic is not monitored in the same way as most company email systems are.
Internet firm Marshal found 48% of people surveyed worked for companies that had no restrictions in place, whilst just 33% said they were banned from using it by their employers, and had automated systems in place to enforce that ban.
8% said they weren’t allowed to use webmail during working hours, but that no system was in place to monitor the web sites visited.
CEO of Marshal Ed McNair said “Webmail provides a backdoor to organisations where employees can trade private company information, download or exchange inappropriate material or simply chat with their friends on company time. Having 48% of companies not having any measures in place is far too high a figure.”
Certainly in places I’ve worked, even if there have been fairly strong policies in place about other Internet content, nothing has been said explicitly about web mail.
It can be very useful to have access to a personal email account at work, but it surely isn’t any employees right to have it. After all, there’s very little business argument for allowing it, other than in keeping employees a little happier and showing a degree of trust.
What do you think? Should employees be allowed access to their own personal email accounts at work?