Top 10 E-Mail Mistakes and Mishaps in 2006

For most companies, e-mail plays a mission-critical role in day-to-day business operations. While providing great value, the spontaneous and casual nature of e-mail often results in misuse that can be comical to outsiders while costly to the enterprise. MessageGate has compiled a list of 10 unforgettable e-mail blunders from 2006 that surely will be haunting the sender in the New Year.

“New regulations, increasing litigation and continued reliance on electronic communications have driven smart organizations to take a good look at their e-mail policies and governance,” says Robert Pease, vice president of marketing for MessageGate. “We hope companies will make a New Year’s resolution to take practical steps toward better e-mail governance. Companies that don’t take proactive measures run the risk of showing up in the headlines in 2007.”

The list:

10. Politics - as usual

A lawyer at the Small Business Administration was fired after sending and receiving more than 100 e-mails through his government computer in support of the Green Party in California.

9. "But I wasn't being paid!"

An intern sent all of a company's sensitive IT diagrams to her personal Gmail account so that she could have samples of her work for the future. This included every server, the applications running on those servers, the IP addresses and a multitude of other sensitive network security information. This information is now stored and indexed on Google's servers.

8. "Change the toner ... please!"

A company discovered its top e-mail sender was not an employee, but the copy/fax machine. Tens of thousands of emails sent over a period of days alerting various users of low toner were universally ignored; meanwhile, mail servers were strained and folders were filling up.

7. I bought how many houses?!?

A financial services company discovered employees were disclosing customers' personal financial information through unsecured e-mail as they sought to close loans by sharing credit reports directly with applicants via e-mail.

6. Biting the hand that feeds you

Morgan Stanley asked two bankers and the firm's former chief economist in Asia to leave after they distributed an e-mail critical of Singapore. From the e-mail: ``Actually, Singapore's success came mostly from being the money laundering center for corrupt Indonesian businessmen and government officials. Indonesia has no money. So Singapore isn't doing well.''

5. A costly pack rat

A financial services company learned that a system administrator was testing the systems responsiveness and load by cramming the e-mail network full of test messages (to the tune of 80-90k per day). In addition to causing huge system bottlenecks, the firm's archiving policy was saving terabytes of test mail per year and archiving it for an undetermined time.

4. Live, from W-R-O-N-G

Recognizing the unusual messaging patterns of one employee, a financial services firm discovered that one employee was running a disc-jockey business at the expense of the corporate server. The large music files he was e-mailing to potential customers were being archived for an indefinite period.

3. He said, she said

Thomas J. Perkins, the former HP director who unearthed a series of scandals at HP, held the upper hand in his public-relations battle with the chairwoman, Patricia C. Dunn, until his callous e-mail was forwarded to the media.

2. How do you say 'oops!' in German?

Deutsche Bank AG, Germany's largest bank, lost its spot among the underwriters of Hertz Global Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering after an employee sent unauthorized e-mails to about 175 institutional accounts.

1. Thanks, but I no longer need the job

The video resume of Yale senior Aleksey Vayner was sent from a financial institution that he was applying at to YouTube. With the Internet world mocking Vayner, he is threatening to sue numerous institutions including UBS and YouTube.