5 Email Lessons Every Employee Should Learn From The Sony Hacking Incident – Forbes

Almost everyone in the world has heard about the incident where Sony Pictures Entertainment became the victim of a cyber attack and sensitive information was leaked to the public, including internal company emails. While this situation highlighted the issue of cyber-security, it also provides a good warning for all employees on the use of email in business.

Here are five lessons every employee should understand when it comes to using company email:

Lesson #1: Assume no expectation of privacy. Emails you send using your employer’s email system are generally considered to be company property. So be aware that your employer could potentially read every email you send.

Lesson #2: Don’t assume your employer’s email system is secure. Employees at Sony Pictures thought that no one except the intended recipient would ever see their emails. Unfortunately, that was an incorrect assumption and the insensitive and inappropriate content of some of the leaked emails wreaked all kinds of havoc. To be on the safe side, assume your work emails are not secure and that the system could be hacked.

Lesson #3: Be a role model of professionalism in every email. Think before you send anything via email and consider the repercussions that could occur if the email you’re about to send gets published for anyone in the world to read. Strive to make every email you write a representation of your high level of professionalism, character and integrity.

Lesson #4: Avoid email for sensitive communications. Decide if the topic for discussion should be live or via email, especially if it’s of a sensitive nature. It’s okay to send an email follow-up after a meeting to ensure attendees are aware of the required action items, but don’t use email to gossip, badmouth others or share your personal opinions – especially if they’re negative.

Don’t use company email to send non-company “stuff” such as goofy cat videos or pictures of your latest beach vacation. And this should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: NEVER write anything in an email that could legally compromise you or your employer, such as comments about someone’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or anything that falls into the category of “protected classes” under state laws.

Lesson #5: Consider a conversation instead of email. Over 108.7 billion business emails were sent and received every day during 2014, according to research by The Radicati Group, Inc. That’s an average of 121 daily emails for business users. You might think a live discussion will take longer than sending an email, but for many topics, a quick telephone call or walking over to chat with a coworker will take less time and also help you avoid multiple back-and-forth emails.