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The risks of using personal email accounts for business

Law Week Colorado recently featured an interesting story about employees’ use of personal email to send business-related messages. Today, nearly everyone has a personal email account as well as a business email account, and problems can arise when the two are used interchangeably.

This issue has been in the media spotlight after it was reported that Hilary Clinton used a personal email account while serving as secretary of state, which means her emails were stored on a server located outside of the State Department and could have been exposed to interception.

After many data breaches have occurred over the past few years, employers are beginning to worry about whether their employees could be exposing the business to security threats and liability by using personal email accounts for business.

According to Law Week Colorado’s report, the risk depends largely on how data-sensitive the work environment is. For example, companies that have access to sensitive information about clients such as credit card or Social Security numbers need to be especially careful.

If employees are too lax with how they handle data and it breaches industry regulations, both the employee and the employer could potential face criminal consequences, an employment law attorney interviewed by Law Week Colorado said.

Additionally, the attorney pointed out that a data breach could be very bad for the company’s reputation. For example, mega-retailer Target is still trying to repair its reputation after its major data breach in 2013.

In order to keep your business’ sensitive information safe and avoid getting into trouble, it’s a good idea to set a policy for personal email usage on the job. An experienced business attorney with employment law knowledge can help you put a policy into place. 

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