At Work: Good Email, Internet, and Computing Habits

As an employee at your institution, you’re a cog in the great wheel that makes everything run. You’ve got responsibilities and work hard to answer all inquiries and requests that come over your desk. A major portion of your work is done on a computer, over the email system your institution gave you permission to access and use for your work. Here’s some things to remember when using your institution’s computer systems, email, and Internet access.

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Use Your Common Sense When Emailing

You are Everything you write and respond to reflects you and your position. It’s all about how you behave. Use common sense and professionalism when responding to any email, both external and internal to your institution. Imagine your Mother looking over your shoulder as you type the email. Ask yourself, “What would my Mother do/say about this email?” Would she tsk-tsk you and tell you to rewrite it? Writing good email isn’t easy, and you’ll want to remember that many times people can misconstrue or misunderstand what you’re trying to say. Being a savvy Internet and email user can reflect on your professionalism, and also reflect on your institution’s reputation.

Rules to Surf By At Work

On the Internet at work? You use the Internet to do a good bit of research, check on an order you made for your institution, and you’re very adept at navigating your way on the Internet. You’ve worked hard, so why not browse on the Internet during your lunch break or send out a few personal emails on your personal email account? Here’s some rules you’ll want to keep in mind, whether or not your institution has a written policy, these are some “What Would My Mother Do/Say?" Rules to email and surf by while you’re at work.

Keep Personal Email Personal

Limit your personal email usage. You’re on your institution’s systems, and even though it’s just one or two emails, do the math, if everyone of your fellow employees read or sent one or two emails per day outside of their work parameters, well, you see where this is going.

Who’s Watching You?

It’s not your computer. Don’t expect any privacy in your email or other electronic messages. This includes instant messaging. Your institution has probably already stated somewhere in its policies or employee handbook that there is no expectation of privacy. Think your emails go unnoticed or unread? Think again. Your institution doesn’t have to tell you it is reading your emails because those emails are really owned by them.

Keep It Work-Related

Monitoring may happen, and probably will, financial institutions are under the eye of banking regulators, so you should expect all of your work to be visible, including your work done electronically. Your institution may monitor your electronic communications, if it deems it necessary. So again, you’ll want to remember keep it all work related.

Speak Up On Your Suspicions

Experiencing a slow-running computer or had a weird phone call where the caller asked you questions about your work, co-workers, or things that aren’t public? Pick up the phone and report suspicious incidents to the proper department (usually the information security department) at your institution. If you’re not sure what department to contact, ask your supervisor. If you see someone, a co-worker or another employee doing something out of the ordinary, make a note of it and report it to the proper department.

Don’t just sit there silently. If the IT hits the fan later, the trail may lead back to you. Better to be a Chicken Little than not speak up. The faster you respond, the faster your information security team at your institution can stop whatever is happening.

The Hard And Fast Rules

Know the rules and expectations of your institution. Whether you joined your institution 20 years ago or just last month, the same rules apply. If you violate the rules… your employment could be terminated. Don’t know what the rules are? Be sure to ask, and know what is allowed, and what is not allowed.

Do Nothing To Offend

Your professionalism is reflective of your institution. So no offensive jokes, or anything else that fails the “What Would My Mother Do/Say” Rule. If it’s offensive to others, you can’t do it, not at your institution or on its computer systems or telephone.

Get The Hack Out Of Here

For those employees who are curious about viruses or think they would like to see what the “bad side” of the Internet looks like, don’t do it at work. Do not visit “hacker” sites or download any software that isn’t approved by your institution’s Information Technology department.

No Other Business At Work

Your friend in accounting does tax returns as a side job during tax season, and he uses his workstation to store some of the tax returns he’s completed. Following your friend’s example, you’re thinking of putting together a gift basket business and run it out of your house. You’ve been using your institution’s computer to put together some of the pages and store the photos for your brochure. This is not something you’ll want to do, unless you don’t want to work at your institution in the future. Do not even think about running any sort of non-business on your institution’s networks.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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