Obviously, everyone who's received email from an employee has access to their email address. With some on-line
services, such as AOL, screen names are also an email address. And if they have ever posted an item on a newsgroup, the email address may be available to anyone who reads that item.
But employees do not have to take any direct action to put themselves at risk. People leave information behind every time they visit a site. Try visiting www.Anonymizer.com, and click the "Don't believe us?" link to get a glimpse of the sorts of information presented, often without knowing it, every time they surf the Net.
(The site also sells tools to enable you to surf anonymously.) There are a lot of helpful tools about such as http://consumer.net/index.asp
There are other forms of email stalking and harassment aside from obscene letters. It is possible to forge email identities, to be used for posting messages aimed at embarrassing or discrediting your company. And more technologically sophisticated
email harassers may send a mail bomb, filling your mailbox with hundreds or even thousands of unwanted messages.
Principally to help protect individuals, a number of organisations have sprung up to help avoid and protect people from the worst excesses of the Internet. Managers can put in place defence mechanisms and may consider that they have a responsibility so
Examples such as HateWatch, (http://hatewatch.org) are Web based educational resources and is an organisation that combats the growing and evolving threat of online bigotry. Originally a Harvard Law School library Web page, this project soon
grew too large and the need for a more activist orientated organisation became apparent.
In 1996, HateWatch incorporated in Massachusetts began to actively monitor hate groups on the Web.
Among other resources, HateWatch now keeps the most up to date catalogue of hate groups using the Web to recruit and organise. HateWatch is considered an innovator in the use of Web based outreach and is a leader in the fight for civil rights and social justice.
Cyberangels (http://cyberangels.org) whose mission is to help create a user-friendly and safe on-line surfing experience for everyone! They have three goals:
1. safety and technology education,
2. providing help to law enforcement and to Internet users in need and
3. protecting the innocent on-line.
Finding out who is the perpetrator of malicious content is not too difficult. The
Internet tools for tracking a large proportion of those who pose a threat are readily available and include: http://samspade.org/ or http://www.networksolutions.com/cgibin/ whois/whois and there are many more.
As always with the Internet awareness and common sense rule.
First comes awareness. Awareness of the issues is important and this paper indicated where more information can be found. In addition monitoring is an important aspect of reputation management. Common sense, including the process of making employees (and especially directors) aware of the pitfalls, will be applied by all good companies.