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US firms use own staff to snoop on co-workers

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The UK may have more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the world but US workers are kept under even closer tabs over internet use at work, according to a new survey.

Two in five (41 per cent) of large US firms pay staff to either read or analyse the contents of outbound emails. One in four (26 per cent) of the 300 US firms surveyed by email security outfit Proofpoint said they had sacked someone for violating email policies over the last 12 months.

Email was by no means the only source of data leakage or risk to corporate reputation. Many US corporations disciplined their staff over misuse of web 2.0 communications media such as blogs, message boards and media sharing sites.

Eleven per cent of US firms quizzed said they had disciplined workers for improper use of either blogs or message boards. A similar 13 per cent of companies had cause to read the riot act to workers over misuse of social networking sites. Improper use of media sharing sites led to disciplinary action at 14 per cent of the firms quizzed.

One in four (27 per cent) of the firms polled had investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information from lost or stolen mobile devices in the past 12 months. The exposure of sensitive financial information (such as unannounced financial results) on blogs or message board postings resulted in disciplinary actions at 14 per cent of publicly traded firms surveyed by Proofpoint.

Proofpoint's survey, Outbound Email and Data Loss Prevention in Today’s Enterprise, can be downloaded here (registration required). ®

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