The growth of the Internet has resulted in organizations increasingly depending on electronic communication to conduct business, and this communication method faces the constant threat of cyber-attacks from malicious elements trying to gain access to the organizations’ private information. Electronic mail, or email, is currently the most preferred form of electronic communication in organizations since it helps enhance communication efficiency, productivity, and the gathering of information (Focus Data Solutions 2). The crucial part emails play in an organization’s information technology department leads to a debate regarding the importance of creating and implementing email policies as part of the company’s information security plan. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate email policies within a company and establish the significance of developing and implementing a sound email policy as part of an organization’s information security plan.
Companies commonly embrace technology that increases the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations, and communication is a vital factor in the achievement of such enhanced operational efficiency. For that reason, companies have adopted emails rapidly and made them a crucial part of everyday operations, exposing themselves to the cons email use presents (Barman 1). The disadvantages associated with email use in organizations include the increased risk of decreased productivity and illegal activities such as unauthorized access and distribution, alteration, theft, or deletion of company data and the introduction of malicious malware (Eckel 1). Emails are also susceptible to malicious applications by employees and outsiders such as harassing other users intentionally or unintentionally by sending offensive messages using the company’s email. Furthermore, it is possible to use emails as evidence in court proceedings against a company. It is therefore evident that using emails for communication within an organization, while beneficial, exposes the company to security risks and financial, legal, and reputational liability all of which adversely affect the company’s operational effectiveness. Consequently, it is vital to include an email policy while developing the organization’s security policy to mitigate the risks discussed above.
An email policy is defined as a document a company uses to provide a formal outline guiding employees on the use of its preferred medium of electronic communication (Hayslip 1). Depending on the organization, such a policy’s scope may go beyond the company’s emails to other corporate communication media such as social media and blogs. The main objective of this policy is to offer guidelines to a firm’s employees on what the firm considers suitable and unsuitable use of its emails. Moreover, an email policy also offers guidelines concerning the content of the emails and the archiving process to help enhance information security (Barman 1). As previously indicated, email policies are a very important part of a firm’s security plan for various reasons. One reason is that they enable the administration of email communications within the company and between the company and external users (Barman 2). This enables the management to define the rules regarding company emails and ensure they are compatible with other organizational policies that relate to the retention of documents, harassment, and corporate communication. The email policies help ascertain that corporate email addresses are company property and their use is exclusively for business purposes; thus, prohibiting or limiting personal use (Focus Data Solutions 4). A specific email policy, therefore, helps management limit the time allowed for employees to engage in personal communication and ban the employees from using the firm’s email to sign up for accounts that are unrelated to the business like newsletters. Moreover, the policy also helps management ensure that employees have separate personal and company emails and restrict the opening of attachments sent via email without verifying their authenticity. By enhancing efficient administration, email policies help protect the company from financial and cybersecurity liabilities resulting from the use of firm emails for personal business.
The other importance of email policies in enhancing company security is the establishment of the right to monitor email communication within the firm. As we discussed above, employees or outsiders may use emails within the company for the illegal transmission of sensitive data, online harassment, and to spread malware within the company’s network. An effective policy helps the firm’s management keep track of employee communications to ensure the information they exchange does not expose the company to any security or legal liabilities (Barman 2). The right to monitor email also helps the company establish scanning procedures to ensure the emails the employees receive or send do not contain any malware that would present a cybersecurity threat to the company and its clients. The creation and implementation of email policies is also important as it allows a firm’s management to limit the size of the emails the employees send and receive (Barman 2). Limiting the email size helps maintain and enhance the company’s information security by preventing unscrupulous employees or external elements from unauthorized dissemination of the company’s data through email. Furthermore, limiting the email size also helps protect unsuspecting employees from receiving and opening emails that contain malicious attachments that would introduce malware into the organization’s computer network upon download by employees. However, the size limit should provide exceptions for sanctioned messages that may exceed the set limit.
Another essential reason for including an email policy in a company’s security plan is that it helps create a guideline for using email to communicate confidential company information (Barman 3). An email is like an electronic postcard in that its contents are visible to multiple parties as the email flows through different networks. Moreover, there is always the possibility of sending the email to the wrong recipient accidentally and sharing proprietary company information to the wrong party. Consequently, an email policy helps protect the company’s information by limiting the sending of proprietary information through email or enforcing protection measures such as encryption and digital signing of the emails. Email policies also provide guidelines regarding the archiving of emails. Policies regarding the retention of emails within the company establish the importance of the process in compliance with industry standards and the company’s requirements, and offer guidelines regarding the appropriate retention time, method, access privileges, and the manner in which the emails will be destroyed after their retention period expires (Barman 2). The other importance of email policies in enhancing the company’s information security is that they provide a framework for employees to report any suspicious or inappropriate communication they receive from internal or external sources through the company’s email (Focus Data Solutions 7). The firm’s email policy may also include guidelines for the appropriate actions that the employees and management should take to mitigate the potential financial, legal, reputational, and cybersecurity threats resulting from such emails. Additionally, email policies are a vital addition to an organization’s security plan as they advocate for the appropriate employee training to enhance their vigilance and help the company in maintaining information security. The email policies may also include consequences for failing to comply with the firm’s information security guidelines to ensure the employees abide by these guidelines whenever they are using the firm’s email for communication. In conclusion, this paper has helped establish the importance of email in meeting a company’s communication needs and the associated risks. The paper has also helped establish what an email policy is and the vital part it plays in a company’s security plan by helping the firm in enhancing its information security.
Barman, Scott. “Email Security Policies.” InformIT, February 1st 2002, http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=25170&seqNum=3
Eckel, Erik. “The Importance of an e-Mail Usage Policy.” TechRepublic, June 15th 2014, https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-importance-of-an-e-mail-usage-policy/.
Focus Data Solutions. “Effective Email Policy Guidelines for your Business.” 2018, https://www.focusdatasolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Effective-Email-Policy-Guidelines.pdf
Hayslip, Gary. “9 Policies and Procedures You Need to Know about If You’re Starting a New Security Program.” CSO Online, March 16th 2018, https://www.csoonline.com/article/3263738/9-policies-and-procedures-you-need-to-know-about-if-youre-starting-a-new-security-program.html.
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