May Newsletter - Checking Online EMail

Checking Your Email Online
Web-based e-mail is booming. Services such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail are convenient, accessible and, best of all, free. Many of us have come to rely on them in our personal lives. Whether it’s Gmail or Yahoo Mail, almost everyone has a personal email address these days.  Some employees are checking that personal email at the workplace during normal working hours. Some agencies allow this access, while others have chosen to block it.  Web mail does have its benefits, but to a government network, it also has its risks.
·         Personal email is more susceptible than a corporate email
Web mail access creates a number of security risks, allowing users to inadvertently bypass the normal email checks for malware, spam, or unauthorized content. Although most webmail providers do take appropriate actions to screen malware from their systems, such controls are less stringent than those required for State network.
·         The most popular Webmail services are prime targets of malicious hackers.
Personal webmail will receive more phishing and scam attempts than your normal work email, requiring users to be extra vigilant when evaluating emails. Malicious emails are often sent to government employees using personal webmail accounts, in an attempt to gain access to your State accounts
·         Bring on the SPAM
Webmail is an avenue through which non-business-related content may enters the network. Judging by the number of serious incidents over the years, security has been a low priority to web based email providers.  Even if malware is blocked by the webmail provider, personal webmail accounts may be used to launch attacks on other users.
·         It’s a risk to us…and you!
The most important fact to note when using web mail, is that you may not have full control over your data when using a these services.  Webmail providers are subject to the laws and regulations of the country where they are based. This may involve a number of countries, depending on where the data is stored, processed and transits. Foreign governments may have the right to lawfully access the data held by the webmail service without your knowledge.