Cyber Safety

E-mail Alert

An employee posts a message in an Internet chat room, claiming that your company is selling a dangerous product. Your senior manager sends a group message that contains a racist comment. A disgruntled ex-worker sends a broadcast e-mail to your competitors that includes confidential information about your company.

Entrepreneurs like you have faced these and other kinds of electronic crises: Although giving your staff Internet access makes communication easier, it also means that an employee might be able to break your business with the press of a key.

Your first defense is to make sure your existing liability insurance includes coverage for electronic messages. "It's important to check the language in your policy," says James. "Electronic communication might specifically be excluded." If your policy doesn't specifically exclude electronic communication, you will be covered in most cases.

To protect yourself even further, develop a simple one-page document for your employees that outlines rules about electronic documents. State clearly what kind of communication is and is not appropriate and how to respect the confidentiality of company data. Let them know that if they break the rules, they'll be prosecuted.

For more help, pick up a copy of E-Policy: How to Develop Computer, E-Mail, and Internet Guidelines to Protect Your Company and Its Assets (Amacom Books) by Michael R. Overly.

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This article was originally published in the April 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Cyber Safety.

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