Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/2/2006
05:02 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
50%
50%

Monitoring Employees' Outbound E-Mail Doesn't Make You Big Brother

Many of you are deeply involved in privacy initiatives at your company, and you know better than anyone else that it's a very complex and touchy issue, and that it can be hard to find credible information that helps you achieve those important objectives. And while I wish it were otherwise, the nonsense that many media outlets pump out about this critical subject makes it easy for me to understand why so many people don't trust journalists as much as they used to--or even at all. This isn't an e

Many of you are deeply involved in privacy initiatives at your company, and you know better than anyone else that it's a very complex and touchy issue, and that it can be hard to find credible information that helps you achieve those important objectives. And while I wish it were otherwise, the nonsense that many media outlets pump out about this critical subject makes it easy for me to understand why so many people don't trust journalists as much as they used to--or even at all. This isn't an easy admission from someone who's toiled in the field for almost 30 years, but some of the crap being cranked out today under the heading of "news" reminds me of how Oscar Wilde described fox hunting: "The unthinkable in pursuit of the inedible."

Let me share with you the latest "news" from Reuters--and before you read this, sit down and take a deep breath cause it's a real shocker: "According to a new study, about a third of big companies in the United States and Britain hire employees to read and analyze outbound e-mail as they seek to guard against legal, financial, or regulatory risk." Well stop the danged presses, huh? What will Reuters bring us next--maybe an expose on how teenagers use IM more than traditional e-mail?

Now in itself, that quote isn't such a big deal because I don't think most people expect a lot of high-impact information from Reuters about business technology. But check out the opening sentence from that Reuters dog-bites-man yawner: "Big Brother is not only watching but he is also reading your e-mail." Yes, score another one for the "objective" mainstream media. All the effort you and your colleagues have put into trying to secure your e-mail systems is, in the eyes of Reuters, nothing more than a devious and subversive effort to trample privacy and civil liberties.Who can blame you folks for being extremely skeptical of anything you read?

First this Reuters reporter cites a study saying that about one-third of all respondent companies said "their business was hurt by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in the past 12 months." Because about 99.99% of all companies probably don't want to be hurt by such exposures, many businesses are taking steps to prevent such incidents--isn't that a good thing? In most circles, that would be seen as wise, prudent, and appropriate. But not in the conspiracy-obsessed mind of this reporter, who like so many "objective" reporters in the mainstream media today sees only what he wants to see and reports only what he wants the conclusion to be.

So Reuters hauls out the hackneyed cliche of Big Brother--a linguistic touch here that is, to paraphrase Wilde, the inappropriate in support of the unintelligent--to cram some phony sizzle into an otherwise pointless story. Most companies today make it unmistakably clear to employees that e-mail messages written on company equipment and transmitted over company networks are the property of the company and not the individual--yet, true to form, Reuters depicts this basic safeguarding as bogeyman businesses snooping into "your" e-mail.

Well, here's our pledge: We at InformationWeek and TechWeb and Network Computing and other CMP technology sites promise we'll spare you this type of twisted nonsense, and we promise we won't link to useless stories like this one from Reuters (except to criticize them), and we promise we'll focus on giving you the information you want and need, rather than on what we think will get a phony rise out of you. So let us know what you think, and don't pay any attention to these linguistic hallucinations from the hypemeisters at Reuters.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
New 'Nanodegree' Program Provides Hands-On Cybersecurity Training
Nicole Ferraro, Contributing Writer,  8/3/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15820
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.6881, the markdown parser could disclose hidden file existence.
CVE-2020-15821
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.6881, a user without permission is able to create an article draft.
CVE-2020-15823
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
JetBrains YouTrack before 2020.2.8873 is vulnerable to SSRF in the Workflow component.
CVE-2020-15824
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains Kotlin before 1.4.0, there is a script-cache privilege escalation vulnerability due to kotlin-main-kts cached scripts in the system temp directory, which is shared by all users by default.
CVE-2020-15825
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-08
In JetBrains TeamCity before 2020.1, users with the Modify Group permission can elevate other users' privileges.