January 30, 2016
No matter who you’re voting for in the next presidential election, we can all agree that Hillary Clinton has already taught us a valuable lesson. Whatever you’ve sent or received concerning your email account is unlikely to remain private forever. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance your privacy isn’t as strong as that of the secretary of state, which means we should all be a little concerned.
It all started with Hillary making the decision to use a private server while she was in office. Her decision was based on convenience – hackers love when we choose convenience over strict safety protocols.
Remember when all we could do with mobile phones was make phone calls or play snake? With the convenience of public cloud services, mobile user behavior is changing. People have developed unique working habits, like how Clinton made the decision to work from her personal device instead of opting for a government-issued one. Now, more than ever, professional and personal lines are not set in stone. Users can transfer confidential information from corporate regulated boundaries or third party servers with a few simple clicks. Companies need to find a way to monitor and regulate these potential threats.
Miniscule actions can have tragic consequences. It’s almost second nature to have both your personal and professional email accounts on the same device, but the lines are blurring when it comes to just how separate you need to keep these worlds. Using a personal email account may seem harmless, but using it to share and discuss sensitive company information could be potentially disastrous. This shows that an innocent habitual pattern can lead to more severe outcomes over time.
Clinton has taught us that there is a need for a no-nonsense approach to mobile security. Policies are not some random decision, they are put in place for a specific reason. They are established to protect the company and its customers. This is why major industries, such as banking, have begun to tighten their regulations and adopt fool proof security measures and protocols.
The case of Clinton’s emails being hacked is not the first warning we’ve received about protecting our email accounts. A few months prior, Sony Pictures had their email hacked before the release of their film “The Interview,” the plot in which James Franco and Seth Rogen play journalists who try to assassinate the leader of North Korea. The hack caused embarrassment for the senior executives and led to the co-chairman of Sony Pictures resigning shortly after. The emails being released should have been enough to scare us all into thinking twice about what we write in our emails, especially during work.
The truth is, nothing communicated online is truly private. You don’t need to be the target of a gang of international hackers to expose your emails. It’s as simple as someone taking a screenshot of your email and posting it online. Sometimes it’s tough to be aware of the potentially detrimental information we’re sharing because our lives are so busy.
Maybe you don’t have government secrets on your mind, but we are exposing ourselves to potential threats in many other ways. By sending an email containing our our social security number, forgetting to delete that password reminder we got several weeks ago or even keeping bank and credit card details, we are setting ourselves up to be the next big target. Try a free tool that scans your email to show vulnerabilities and how to rid yourself of them, this takes the guesswork out of protecting the information you really want to keep private and secure.
The Constitution in the U.S. protects individuals against government abuse, but there isn’t much protection of data collected on individuals. Most of the privacy regulations in the U.S. relies on self-regulation. Companies decide their own policies on handling customer and employee privacy. Europe upholds far stricter government enforced rules about obtaining and using personal data. Their policies require that individuals offer their unambiguous consent.
The statistics don’t lie, in the United States, 70 percent of people choose to send personal messages from their professional email accounts. This means that any private emails related to job-seeking or correspondences deemed inappropriate by company policy could be retrieved by the IT department. The emails are usually backed up on servers in a different locations, so even if the computer crashes, the information is retrievable.
Next time you begin writing an email, ask yourself if you would like the whole world to see it. Anything you write in a connected environment is basically the equivalent of writing it in smoke across the clouds.
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