Blog and You'll get Fired

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Tom Keating
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Blog and You'll get Fired

Proofpoint's survey has some interesting statistics including that 38% of large companies hire staff to read employee email. The survey also has a lot of stats on blogging, including a statistic that states 7.1% of companies have fired an employee for violating blog or message board policies. Uh oh... I hope I don't get fired for posting Hooters girls on top of a red Dodge Viper.

Check out the survey:

2006 Proofpoint Survey Finds that 7.1% of Large US Companies Fired Employees for Blogging and Message Board Infractions In Last 12 Months

Subject: Proofpoint's 2006 survey of 294 decision-makers at large U.S. companies shows growing concern over sensitive information leaving the enterprise through electronic channels such as email, blog pages and message boards. In fact, 55.4% of these large companies (with 20,000 or more employees) have expressed their uneasiness that regulations guarding the firm's privacy will be violated by members of the "e-communication" community.  In an effort to reduce risk of exposure, 44% of larger companies employ staff to monitor outbound email, and nearly 1 in 5 companies (17.3%) has disciplined an employee for disobeying blog or message board policies.

Date: June 13, 2006

In its annual study of outbound email and content security issues, messaging security company Proofpoint, Inc. found that outbound email and other outbound electronic communication protocols continue to grow as a source of risk for companies.  Companies appear to have good reason to worry about the safety of their information – more than a third (34.7%) of companies report their business was affected by the disclosure of sensitive material in the past year. Furthermore, more than 1 in 3 investigated a suspected email leak of confidential or proprietary information and 36.4% investigated a suspected violation of privacy or data protection regulations in the past year.

While emails have been a major source of exposure, other communication channels have become increasingly risky as well.  Companies fear that financial data, healthcare information, or other private materials may be posted in blogs, sent through instant messaging, or transmitted by other means. 

Additional key findings from the survey, which was fielded by Forrester Consulting, include:

•    Nearly 1 in 3 companies (31.6%) has terminated an employee for violating email policies in the past 12 months. More than half (52.4%) of companies have disciplined an employee for violating email policies in the past year.

•    More than 1 in 5 (21.1%) companies were impacted by improper exposure or theft of customer information, while 15% were impacted by improper exposure or theft of intellectual property.

•    Companies estimate that more than 1 in 5 outgoing emails (22.8%) contains content that poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk. The most common form of non-compliant content is messages that contain confidential or proprietary business information.

•    The study found that 38% of companies with 1,000 or more employees hire staff to read or analyze outbound email. 44% of larger companies (those with more than 20,000 employees) employ staff for this purpose.

•    More than 1 in 4 companies (25.2%) were ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee email in the last year.

•    17.7% of companies investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information by a third-party vendor or outsourcing firm with whom they share such data.

The study also found that other communications channels, such as blogs and message boards, are emerging as sources of risk for companies:

•    More than half (55.4%) of companies are very concerned about Web-based email as a conduit for exposure of confidential or proprietary information. Respondents are also very concerned about FTP, instant messaging, peer-to-peer networks, blogs and message boards.

•    Nearly 1 in 5 companies (17.3%) has disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies in the last year. 7.1% of companies fired an employee for such infractions.

•    10% of public companies investigated the exposure of material financial information via a blog or message board posting in the past year.

This year's study indicates that the issues that companies are most concerned about are:

•    Protecting personal identity and financial information confidentiality in email
•    Ensuring compliance with financial disclosure or corporate governance regulations
•    Ensuring that confidential internal memos cannot be disseminated via email
•    Protecting the confidentiality of private healthcare information in email

Proofpoint also surveyed 112 large companies based in the UK for this year's study. To download a free copy of Proofpoint's complete report, Outbound Email and Content Security in Today's Enterprise, 2006, visit:

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