How Do the Rise of Business E-Mail, Mobile Work and Data Privacy Fit Together?

Posted by Sabrina Sturm Tue, 04 Dec 2012 08:39:00 GMT

 A study by the “The Radicati Group” makes a dire prediction: Up to 2016, the number of business e-mails sent daily, contrary to private e-mail,  will continue to rise sharply. Already, 89 million business e-mails per day are sent through the Internet. For 2016, the prognostication is 144 million daily business e-mails. This “flood” of business e-mail has some grave consequences for enterprises and their employees: not only as regards the amount of work and the organization,  but also as regards the matter of data privacy protection – think of the constantly rising number of  mobile workers and private smartphones used at work.


More E-Mail = More IT Resources?

One thing is clear: The more e-mail sent over the network, the more bandwidth is needed and, possibly, other existing capacities (server, memory, etc.) will at some time be overloaded. As e-mail is, however, one of the most important communication elements in today’s business world is, 24/7 availability must be ensured. Archiving e-mail is, for example, due to legal obligations to preserve records, also of enormous importance. Therefore, enterprises should start thinking now about how they will handle the rising flood of e-mails, e.g., by purchasing more server capacity. 

More e-mail also means more spam; reliable spam filters must also be used. Otherwise, there is the danger that malware will be infiltrated into the enterprise network and sensitive data put at risk. Not to mention that spam is quite simply annoying and a waste of time that could have been used productively.

All in all, the rising tide of e-mail can cost an enterprise a lot of time and money.  


 More E-Mail = More Stress?


Another factor that shouldn’t be forgotten is that already today many employees are hard put to cope with the flood of e-mails and are feeling stressed. Studies have shown, today’s “always on” mentality can also cause health problems. Staff members who are reachable per e-mail 24/7 can’t even “switch off” in their free time. It is therefore no surprise that major companies would now like to counteract this trend. For example, the automotive company Daimler has introduced a rule that employees can, during their vacation, have their e-mail deleted. A similar rule can be found at Volkswagen: there, no e-mail is delivered to company smartphones between 6:15 pm and 7:00 am. 

Additionally, one can discern almost compulsive behavior that some people have dealing with e-mail. Every incoming e-mail is announced by a small pop-up in the lower corner of the monitor. Many employees simply have to look in their mailboxes right away, each time. This definitely breaks their concentration – other work has to be interrupted and, after checking the e-mail, one has to pick up where one left off. This, of course, takes its toll on efficiency. One way to help here would be to deactivate the e-mail pop-up notifier and set fixed times for dealing with e-mail (e.g., once an hour or at the completion of a task). 

A higher amount of e-mail doesn’t have to lead to more stress. However, to assure this, certain rules and regulations, as described above, have to be implemented. Otherwise, e-mails that are actually informative can quickly become a liability. Tips for staff on how to deal with the e-mail flood more effectively and, most importantly, more quickly, can be found in this article.

More E-Mails = Bigger Security Risk?


If, for the sake of argument, you leave malware and phishing e-mails out of the equation, you might at first glance see no great security risk for enterprise resources. But, as is often the case, the devil is in the details: It is exactly in connection with the trend towards mobile and flexible work, anytime and anywhere, as well as the increasing use of private devices in a professional context, that more e-mails also represent a higher security risk. Why is that? 

A study done by Symantec in 2006 had discovered that the value of the information to be found in the e-mailboxes of company laptops amounted to about €800,000. It is not to be assumed that this value has shrunk in the meantime. Rather, the opposite most likely true: as the number of mobile employees who don’t (always) work on the company premises constantly increases, one must proceed from the assumption that even more e-mails with valuable information are slumbering in the e-mail inbox. 

If this data is not sufficiently protected, it can quickly fall into the wrong hands if, for example, the mobile device is ever lost or stolen. A study by the Ponemon Institute shows that, alone at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, more than 700 laptops a day are registered as lost or stolen. It doesn’t look any better at other airports, either. 

A good solution to this problem would be to use a modern remote access solution for e-mail access, from the mailbox to calendar functions to contacts. On the one hand, e-mail content is transmitted encrypted; on the other hand, some of these solutions also never store any data on the mobile device, so that even if the device is ever lost or stolen, the data remain safely in the enterprise. Thanks to the encrypted transmission, the data are protected from being eavesdropped upon or otherwise intercepted during transmission.

In light of this information, enterprises should proactively take steps to implement an effective solution, in order to stop this problem before it stops them.




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