Some surveys have revealed that a large number of companies hire staff snoopers to read and analyze outbound e-mail sent by their own employees. They monitor email communication under the pretext of security that outgoing email might contain confidential data or might expose the company to some legal risk.
And this is not just corporate email that goes via Lotus or Microsoft Exchange Server – companies could be reading your web based email like that from GMail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL or Hotmail.
If you are also worried that someone in your organization is secretly monitoring your email, here’s a simple trick to confirm that suspicion:
Step 1: Create a dummy web page on an external website like geocities.com or Google Pages. Make sure you don’t share the web address (URL) of that page with anyone else in world.
Step 2: Goto sitemeter.com or statcounter.com (or any web statistics program) and generate a tracking code for the web page created in the previous step. Copy-paste the tracking code in your web page.
Both statcounter and sitemeter are free web analytics services that help you track who visited your web pages and how.
Step 3: Compose a new email message from office contain a hyperlink to the web page that you have just created. Keep the subject and the body of the email message interesting (and provocative) so that if an email snooper exists, he’ll be tempted to check that email before it leaves the office vault.
For instance, the email subject could say “Confidential Company Presentation” and the message body could say “I have upload that presentation. Please download it here.”
And that’s the trap. As soon as the snooper clicks the link in the email to visit the linking web page, that visit will be recorded by your web analytics package. You can then check the IP address and other details to confirm the location of the person who read that “secret” email message.
Even if your fears are confirmed, there’s little you do to prevent your organization from monitoring your electronic correspondence. There’s however a good online service called hidelinks.com that helps you password protect URLs that you share in email messages. The recipient has to type a password, set by you, in order to visit the site mentioned in the email.