Since e-mail has become the communication choice of so many people, many end users treat their corporate e-mail accounts just as they do their personal e-mail accounts. In addition to normal work messaging, they might send and receive an occasional e-mail with friends and family or trade a few jokes.

Most such usage doesn’t cause problems. These users aren’t abusing their e-mail privileges; they are just using e-mail as a communication device. But there are some users who abuse their work e-mail accounts by using the company e-mail system to further personal agendas. That’s where you need to draw the line.

Spam, spam, spam, egg and spam
When users participate in chain e-mail sending—continuously sending large amounts of e-mail and propagating chain messages that say “Forward this e-mail to 10 people”—they’re using up a lot of bandwidth and company time.

Such users may also send chain letters related to Ponzi schemes, which purport that everyone makes money as the letter is passed along. These e-mails can generate enormous amounts of network traffic and are as illegal as any other pyramid scheme.

Another traffic hog is from users sending spam. It is bad enough to have a network bombarded with unsolicited external advertising, but having an employee exploit the system to send spam both internally and externally is even worse.

Not only is spam a bandwidth-waster, but if the offending e-mail can be traced to your company’s address, it’s possible for the traffic to double if recipients of the spam respond to the messages.

Another motivation e-mail users might have to gum up a network is anger. An employee could use your organization’s e-mail system to spread “letter bombs,” which are extremely large or numerous e-mail messages intended to annoy, interfere, or deny e-mail use of another party. An angry employee could also use your e-mail system to conduct denial of service (DoS) attacks on another organization.

Does your organization’s e-mail policy explicitly spell out to users the types of behaviors that are considered unacceptable e-mail usage? If not, it’s a good idea to develop a policy that tells exactly what types of use will not be tolerated and distribute it to employees.

To help you develop such a policy for your organization, TechRepublic has devised an acceptable e-mail use policy download.

Our download can be modified and inserted into your organization’s existing e-mail policy. It addresses the following abuses:

  • Perpetuating chain e-mail letters
  • Creating and sending spam
  • Sending or encouraging “letter bombs”
  • Practicing an activity designed to deny the availability of electronic communications resources

Download our acceptable e-mail use policy excerpt
You can download our acceptable e-mail use policy guide by following this link or by clicking on the Downloads link in the navigation bar on the top of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available for download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.

Our acceptable e-mail use policy download is available both as a Microsoft Word document and an Adobe PDF file. To increase download speed, we have zipped these two files together into one file. You will need a utility such as WinZip or PKZIP to expand the zipped file. You will also need either Microsoft Word or the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view each respective document. You can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Stop e-mail abuse

Join the campaign against e-mail abuse by downloading our unacceptable use policy. If you have suggestions of other unacceptable uses that potentially clog networks, add them in the discussion below.