Archives April 2020

Implications of E-Mail Use to Business

We will look at how the Internet has changed overall patterns of business communications, but what about the practical realities for employees? Many of the issues involve e-mail. What is the main sort of problems that arise which need to be managed?

Guy Galboiz, a technology CEO as well as internet expert, outlines implications of using emails.
First, the issue of legal liability which in several high-profile cases, employees have criticized competitors or made unrealistic comments about their performance in e-mails which have later been forwarded outside the company. When the competitors have found out they have successfully sued other companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When companies send out commercial e-mails, they are subject to data protection law and they must follow guidelines.

Second, there are the resourcing implications. Search the BBC News site on e-mail overload and you will see the extent of the problem. It is now very common for employees to receive and send hundreds of e-mails per week. A worker may spend hours each day just answering e-mails. It seems that the ease and lower cost of communicating electronically has led to more messages being transmitted, many of which are unnecessary news circulated around everyone in the company, or alternatively, employees spending time socializing on the company’s time. The growth of SPAM or unsolicited commercial e-mail, which we will look at in the next section, also increases the amount of time needed to manage e-mail. With millions of messages, many with multimedia components, needing to be held on companies’ servers the hardware resources needed have also increased.

Third, there are the privacy implications. Companies may monitor their employees e-mail. Is this a breach of trust, or is its legitimate analysis to ensure that employees spend time on company business and sensitive information does not leave the company?

Finally, there is the problem of flame mails or flaming spirals where a manager may send an abusive e-mail, saying things which they would not dare say face-to-face rather than confronting a colleague face-to-face. Naturally an abusive e-mail is often followed by an abusive response and the situation deteriorates as the parties become further apart.


Threats to Information Security for e-Business

For all the opportunities that the Internet provides for business and consumers, it can also pose a great risk to information belonging to those businesses and consumers. The Internet provides a gateway to a range of information, but also provides a gateway for malicious programs developed by malicious people to corrupt and destroy information. A key role of the IT manager or e-commerce manager is to protect their business from these threats. Remember that the business is also custodian for customer data and if customer data such as credit card numbers are lost, then this will reflect badly on the business. “Fears over security used to be one of the main barriers to consumer and business adoption to the Internet, but this has declined dramatically over the last 5 years. “”, explains Guy Galboiz, an internet marketing consultant. Nevertheless, demonstrating security is still important to consumer confidence. Witness, the efforts that businesses take to reassure customers about security and privacy.

What then are the threats? General threats to information can be classified as follows:

  • Accidents – These are errors arising from mistakes by staff. For example, it is surprisingly easy for a webmaster to delete many key files of a web site.
  • Natural Disasters – These include fire and flood. If a company host their own e-commerce server or their ISP is affected by such a disaster, then it is possible that their web presence could be lost for several days in the event of a flood.
  • Sabotage (Industrial and Individual) – This is deliberate sabotage of a system possibly for commercial gain or due to an individual grudge such as an ex-employee.
  • Theft – This is theft of information such as credit card numbers, for commercial gain.
  • Unauthorized Use (Hacking) – This can be for the purposes of theft or sabotage, but sometimes it has no malicious intention – it is a challenge for technically minded people to try to break into systems.
  • Hijacking – A company’s web server may be used to mount attacks on other servers. For example, Denial of Service attacks to send a lot of unwanted traffic to major sites such as Yahoo! were mounted by sending messages from many hijacked computers. Similarly, Spammers can hijack a mail server and use it for sending SPAM. This could result in your web operations being shut down by the ISP if they believe you are to blame.
  • Computer Viruses – these are programs which spread between machines with, or without the intention of causing damage. As we will see in a later section, there are a great variety of viruses.

To prevent these types of problems, it is important that someone in the business is responsible. This is typically, the IT manager or e-commerce manager in a larger company, but if a business is small, there may not be an IT manager, so another manager will need to do this as part of their role. In fact, it may not be able to complete prevent these types of problems, since as we will see later there are so many hundreds of thousands of viruses, with a new one discovered every few seconds that it is likely that defenses may be breached. Given this, an approach based on risk management is a useful one. Risk management uses the following approach.

  1. Identify risks including their probabilities and impacts
  2. Identify possible solutions to these risks
  3. Implement the solutions targeting the highest impact, most likely risks.
  4. Monitor the risks to learn for future risk assessment

For all the opportunities that the Internet provides for business and consumers, it can also pose a great risk to information belonging to those businesses and consumers. The Internet provides a gateway to a range of information, but also provides a gateway for malicious programs developed by malicious people to corrupt and destroy information. A key role of the IT manager or e-commerce manager is to protect their business from these threats. Remember that the business is also custodian for customer data and if customer data such as credit card numbers are lost, then this will reflect badly on the business. Fears over security used to be one of the main barriers to consumer and business adoption to the Internet, but this has declined dramatically over the last 5 years. Nevertheless, demonstrating security is still important to consumer confidence. Witness, the efforts that e-tailers take to reassure customers about security and privacy.