Simson Garfinkel

A View from Simson Garfinkel

You Have No Privacy at Work

Hacker/Cracker Ejovi Nuwere notes in his blog that the publication of by the US Government of documents from the Enron Investigation reveals stunning amounts of personal information on Enron’s 10,000 employees.”The emails include relationship information (including extramarital), Social Security Numbers,…

  • October 15, 2003

Hacker/Cracker Ejovi Nuwere notes in his blog that the publication of by the US Government of documents from the Enron Investigation reveals stunning amounts of personal information on Enron’s 10,000 employees.

“The emails include relationship information (including extramarital), Social Security Numbers, office relationships, credit card numbers, funeral arrangementsbasically anything people were unlucky enough to send using their Enron email account,” notes Nuwere.

Ejovi says that the action by the US Government is “a sad blow to privacy.”

But all is not terrible with this experience.

First, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has set up an email address by which personal information can be removed, and that email address is right on the page from which this information is linked.

Second, this serves as an object lesson that work email accounts should really not be used for personal business. You have no control over the data!

Ever since moving back to Boston in 1998, I’ve run my own email server. Through several jobs, my “work” email has always been forwarded to the machine in the basement. Many times people at work couldn’t tell the difference. But I had the advantage of knowing that none of my personal email would ever be on office computers.

Now, everybody can’t run their own email server. But people can segregate their work from their home email. One way to do this is with web-based email services like Hotmail and Yahoo mail. Another way to do this is by using a system like IMAP, so that your personal mail really resides on a remote server, but is visible using the same email client program that you use for your work.

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