As if the chance of accidentally sending love letters to your boss wasn’t enough, new study finds 1/3 of IT admins read your work email

It is always embarrassing to have private information about yourself shared in a public manner. For example, if you share a secret with a friend, who then gets drunk and regales everyone at a party about the time you [insert highly embarrassing “secret” here], that really sucks. Or how about the time you accidentally reply to all to an email thread, and badmouth one of the recipients? Yikes, that could be painful.

In my six or so years of working in offices, I have *luckily* not had any highly embarrassing slip-ups, but I have had friends make such mistakes and even heard about large-scale accidental email sharing. For example, my department had an internal address that included the 10 or so of us in editorial. One coworker sent accidentally sent an email intended for his girlfriend to the internal address instead of hers — understandable because we each sent at least 30 emails per day through this address, but also pretty embarrassing for him. He asked that we just delete the email without reading it, but being naturally voyeuristic, of course we all read it! An even more damaging story comes from an employee many years ago who actually sent an email to his girlfriend over the wire (i.e., out to journalists with real news stories). It’s bad enough getting called out for having a pet name of “snookie bottom” by your coworkers, but having hundreds — if not thousands — of people know this would probably be pretty damaging to one’s ego (and most likely to one’s career as well).

Because of stories like these, I have always avoided sending personal information via my work accounts. The chance for mis-sends is high, and I prefer to avoid explaining to a future employer about why I was let go from a previous job for inappropriately using work email.

Seems like I had the right idea about this, as we now have another reason to not use work email for personal interaction: In a recent survey conducted by tech company Cyber-Ark, 1/3 of respondents (all senior IT employees) admitted to using their admin passwords to read confidential or sensitive information. What this means is that if you have managed to draw attention to yourself by either being too attractive, too important, or too annoying, the chances are pretty good that admins are reading all your email. And if you fall into the annoying category, they’re probably not only reading your email, but they’re trying to find a way to use it against you.

So leave off the work emails kids, or your next job may not only have no work email, but will probably require you to ask “Would you like fries with that?” about 500 times a day.

Thanks to Josh for sharing this with me from Techdirt.

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Who cares about the war on drugs? I want to know if we’ll ever win the war on spam.

Stupid spam. I tried to count the ways I hate you, but I ran out of numbers. Why must you invade every aspect of my life?

So spam. We all know it, we all (I assume) hate it. Yet it’s still here, doing better than ever, invading every aspect of our lives. Why is this?

no-spam.jpg

Well, let’s take a quick history lesson of spam first. Ever wonder where the word “spam” comes from? I did, so I looked it up. Apparently, there is no absolute understanding of the word’s origin as related to unsolicited email, but most people tend to believe it refers to a Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit in which a couple go to a restaurant and the only thing on the menu is spam. The word “spam” is used to excess throughout the skit, until the couple (and the viewers) are ready to poke out their eyes, if only to make it stop.

I like this explanation, as it sums up my feelings toward spam rather succinctly.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. Spam filters have improved exponentially in recent years, so much so that (until recently) I rarely receive spams in my inbox. Well, at least in my Gmail. Yahoo!, on the other hand, doesn’t do as good a job, unless you consider the number of spams getting through to my inbox each day (3-6) in comparison to the number going into my spam filter each day (200+). I guess it’s not too bad, when examined from that angle.

However, I have begun to notice spam encroaching into previously sterile areas in recent weeks. At first I thought I was crazy, but I’ve been reinforced by a number of blog postings suggesting that spammers are getting more intelligent.

First, I noticed an increase in my Gmail about a month ago. The only reason I noticed this was because I never used to get any spam in this account, and suddenly I was seeing a few a week. Again, not a huge deal, especially since you only have to click two buttons to make it go away, but still a little unsettling. At first I thought that maybe I had signed up for something online that was causing the influx, even though I typically reserve registrations like that for my Yahoo! account. But then I was validated when Mashable reported that they were noticing a “leak” in the spam filters too.

Then there’s blog spam. Here at WordPress, the filters catch the vast majority of spam comments, but the sheer number caught (at least on my account) has gone up significantly since February. Mashable recently reported that WordPress thinks up to one-third of blogs posted on the site are actually “splogs,” or spam blogs.

THEN, this past weekend I began receiving notifications from Twitter of new followers on the site. As I am not a big user of the site and do not have a lot of friends using it, I was curious and a little confused by the notifications, although I did not link them to spammers until this morning when I read on Mashable that the Twitter problem is not just a coincidence, and there are users who are creating massive followers’ lists for no go reason. At least the “spam” aspect to this is minimal, since you would need to follow the spammer in order to have their messages appearing on your homepage. But still, this is annoying!

Finally, there is the impetus that caused me to write this post. Mashable is now reporting that spam has entered the most sacred realm of Google Calendars. How is this possible? Let me echo Stan’s post by asking, IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE? This insanity has got to stop!

Looking at the situation more broadly, it is obvious that spammers are becoming more persistent. The AFP reported at the end of2007 that virtually all email is now spam, with the number reaching 95% in 2007, up from 70% in 2006. Now that is quite a lot of junk emails about rich African businessmen who want to wire you money, penis enlargements to make her “hot all night”, magic weight loss pills, and free, well, just about everything. Where is the profit in this? Maybe it’s not a lot of work for the spammer, but does it ever pay off? I understand that phishing scams have the potential to be quite profitable, but spam just seems like a waste of space and time for everyone. So do us a favor spammers and go find another hobby. How about crocheting? Racquetball? Maybe stamp collecting?

So that is my brief look at how spam is taking over my life. Am I supposed to just deal with it and accept that spam will be a part of my life indefinitely? Do I even have a way to fight back without withdrawing myself from the Internet entirely (like that would ever happen)? What’s a girl to do to get a little peace and spam-free quiet these days.

Grr…

[And thanks to Mashable for providing me with tons of stuff to write about in this post!]