Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Exchanging of chain e-mails is a common practice in many organizations. These are basically unsolicited e-mails that we receive and pass on to our colleagues and friends. Topics vary and their content may include jokes, inspirational messages or current affairs. Others however contain pornographic images and videos.

System administrators manage the corporate network and they are able to see the kind of e-mails workers send to each other and what images/videos they download. No company can impose an outright ban on the content of these chain mails.

The risk associated with chain e-mails and especially pornographic e-mails cannot be ignored anymore. It is common knowledge that the most virulent computer viruses are embedded into pornographic material. This pornographic material is a perfect vehicle due to the high distribution rate of this kind of content. Virus infection is therefore guaranteed to be swift.

Another factor to consider is duty of care. Legislation will soon be enacted to ensure that organizations have a legal obligation to prove they have taken all reasonable practical measures to protect their staff from pornographic material. The onus will therefore fall on the company, and not the worker, to ensure that this material is not circulating in the corporate network.

Sifting through the high volume of e-mails generated by employees is a daunting task and this job is best left to an automated tool.

Before this can be done the organization must develop and sensitize all employees on an acceptable usage policy. This policy must outline the do’s and don’ts of corporate e-mail usage.

Trying to manually monitor and apprehend users who breach the usage policy is impossible. That is why an automated e-mail monitoring tool is appropriate. This approach is non-invasive and can drastically reduce the volume of pornographic images/videos that circulate in the workplace.

This tool will screen all e-mails in the corporate network and respond in a number of ways. It can simply block the e-mail or send a warning to the sender and recipient informing them that they are infringing the company usage policy.

This approach will not embarrass anyone because the affected e-mail users will know what was contained in the chain e-mail.

The organization is now able to demonstrate duty of care and has all the information it needs if the situation requires disciplinary action. This approach will also safeguard the company’s reputation and bring down the volume of unofficial activity on the corporate network.

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