Short answer: Yes, you should block personal email at work.
Long answer: Cinch I.T. provides computer support for hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of users. In our experience, access to personal email is the primary cause of malicious software entering the workplace.
Business owners can argue that there is a loss of productivity if employees have access to their personal email. More important than the loss of productivity is the potential hazard to company data, security, and productivity for several reasons. The last thing you want to do is spend lots of money and time on securing your company network, only to allow users access to personal email and have them compromise it. You spend good money on a nice spam filter, anti-virus, anti-phishing, and firewall, and all of that gets completely bypassed when a user accesses their Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL accounts.
Access to a personal email from within your companies network means that your data, client lists, strategic plans, and other confidential information can potentially leave the office. Sometimes this is malicious, but more often, it’s just employee carelessness.
Even if your HR policy states that employee web traffic will be monitored to prevent confidential information leaks, the risk of a data breach remains.
Unlike your corporate email accounts, the employees’ personal email accounts, most oftentimes, do not have advanced spam protection. As a result, when your employees access their personal email on company devices, both your network and your data are vulnerable to security threats.
The most common I.T. security threat is phishing emails. These are responsible for two-thirds of cybersecurity attacks. The term “phishing” is a spin on the word fishing because criminals are dangling a fake “lure” (the legitimate-looking email, website, or ad) hoping users will “bite” by providing the information the criminals have requested – such as credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other valuable information.
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Loss of Productivity
Finally, the loss of productivity. The term personal email itself refers to content unrelated to business. Giving your employees access to personal webmail accounts may cause distractions in the form of music files, jokes, chain letters, and disrupt your employees’ productivity while on company time. Your employees may also be accessing websites that slow down your companies internet as a whole. Stream sites, like Netflix, Hulu, or even YouTube.
Of course, to every rule, there are exceptions. Most of your users will ask you for access to their personal email accounts at some point or another. It would be best if you took these on a case-by-case basis. Through smartphones, most people have access to their personal email right in their pocket. We don’t see why people with smartphones need access to their email on their company email.
Normally, these discussions go on for a little bit more, but this is a simpler topic. Despite being simple, it still comes up very often at virtually every workplace. However, the final reasoning is this: It distracts your staff. It is on your work network. It has a good chance of allowing malicious files into your network security, potentially exposing company hardware to malware. So yes, you should block personal email at work on your network.
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About Cinch I.T.
Since 2004, Cinch I.T. has been providing customer-focused I.T. services for businesses of all sizes. Every element of our computer support offers the fastest and friendliest service in the industry. Cinch is one of the nation’s fastest-growing I.T. support franchises with 7 locations and counting. To learn more, visit cinchit.com. For more information about I.T. franchise opportunities, visit cinchfranchise.com.
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