Jay Butler, Senior Support Consultant

email imageQuestion: I’m pretty sure some of my users are using email for non-business related items. I wouldn’t mind very much if they were sending their wife the grocery list, but I think several are sending emails that may be a little more controversial. How can I check to see what is in their email? Is there any way to stop them?

Answer: Email is a touchy issue for many companies. Email is a business necessity for communicating with your vendors and customers, but it also can put your company in a legal bind under the right circumstances.

The first step to limiting the risk is through your email policy. Make sure employees sign the policy, and that it states what is acceptable work email. Training on the policy will help reinforce these rules. Unfortunately, this is the only true way to stop them. Employees who understand the consequences of breaking the rules will be more likely to adhere to your policy.

Reading their work email can be a little trickier. First, make sure your policy states that you can read their email. Not having this stated and signed could lead to serious problems. If you have an Mdaemon or POP3 mail server, you should have the users save their Outlook mail files to the server (also known as “ps” files). This way, their email is backed up every night. Assuming this is the way your users are saving their email; you can add their “pst” file to your Outlook and view their Inbox and Sent items. Make sure they are not in Outlook when you do this, or you will not be able to open their email.

In Exchange, the easiest and cheapest way is to actually log into the user’s computer under their profile and open Outlook. This cannot be easily done without the user knowing. The other option is to have a system archiving your email. This will allow you to go through an employee’s email account that you suspect breaking your policy. All their email will be listed there, even if they have already deleted it.

Employees often do not realize you can read their email. Pointing out small issues in their email early on will often reinforce the fact that you are monitoring and hopefully deter future issues.

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