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Work email accounts

Work email accounts

Information solicitor Natalie Ruane explains how a detailed IT policy can help to protect organisations against reputational damage.

The malicious hacking of the Ashley Madison dating website continues to have secondary effects. The site, which claims to arrange extra-marital affairs was targetted earlier in 2015. The most recent issue involves the use of work email addresses, with which users had signed up to Ashley Madison services. These addresses have since been leaked, causing reputational damage not only to the individual who signed up to the site, but also to the company / employer to whom the email address belonged.

In order for your business to prevent such damage, it is important to have policies surrounding the use of work email accounts and website access. There should be a clear stance on personal use of work email addresses, although this may be easier said than done with more people using and accessing work emails on their personal smart phones. Having a policy which clearly states the boundaries between work and personal life, and which outlines consequences for policy breaches, should provide the employer with some protection against reputational damage.

Another consideration is when a business puts individual work email addresses on their business’ website to give customers an easy to access point of contact.  Occasionally these email addresses have been used to create ‘fake accounts’ on seedy websites, with the aim of bringing an individual or business into disrepute. It is worth including this aspect of computer mis-use in your policy although thankfully the issue can usually be quickly rectified by unsubscribing.

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Thursday 10th September 2015
Categorised: Information Law

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