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FBI reports indicate that most data thefts in Fortune 500 companies come from internal users.

White Paper: Controlling Unwanted Content

Unfortunately, what may seem like innocent fun can have severe consequences for an enterprise if, after receiving an off-color email, even just one of those employees feels offended or threatened enough to take legal action. Chevron Corporation was forced to pay $2.2 million to four female employees who filed a sexual harassment suit after receiving a joke via email that they considered offensive and degrading to women.

Alternatively, sending out defamatory emails has resulted in serious legal consequences for businesses. The British insurance company Norwich Union paid £450,000 in an out-of-court settlement after its staff circulated an email containing false and defamatory information about its competitor, Western Provident Association. Similarly, British Gas was forced to settle a £161,000 libel suit to rival EGS after a British Gas senior manager sent a defamatory email about EGS to 10,000 of his employees.

COMPANY-SENSITIVE INFORMATION

Perhaps more damaging than the employee who transmits offensive or defamatory content is the employee who transmits sensitive information to others outside of the enterprise. Although the transmission of company-sensitive information is not always considered theft, it is often done intentionally. FBI reports indicate that most data thefts in Fortune 500 companies come from internal users and a PC World magazine study revealed that of 800 employees surveyed, 21-31 percent admitted to emailing sensitive or confidential material to recipients outside of their company. While the financial cost of divulging R&D secrets, confidential client information, or financial data to a competitor is incalculable, the chances of it happening are becoming more and more likely considering the ease and instantaneous nature of email.

LOSS OF BANDWIDTH

Unwanted content often comes in the form of large attachments and high-volume emails. Even if these emails are not offensive, they can significantly slow down an enterprise’s email server, preventing legitimate communications from getting through. Around the holidays, office workers routinely send each other animated e-cards or videos. These large files, typically ranging in size from one to five megabytes, quickly eat up bandwidth. A situation with an employee at Chicago Bridge & Iron shows how large files can have costly ramifications. An employee with the company was stationed in Africa, where the only available Internet connection was an $8 per minute, dial-up satellite link. He was sent a six-megabyte file that would have taken 75 minutes to

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