posted Oct 09, 2000

Web-based email services offer employees little privacy
Privacy from Companies
10/9/2000; 2:48:16 PM 'Everyone knows the boss can read all of the email you send and receive through your corporate account.

'Unfortunately, security experts say many employees would be surprised to know that Web-based email services also offer little privacy. Messages sent via a Yahoo or Hotmail account, or through instant messaging products, such as ICQ or America Online's Instant Messenger (AIM), are just as accessible to nosy employers.'

This article goes on to talk about network sniffers, which can track and record all network traffic, and keyboard sniffers, which record keypresses on a keyboard.

As is often the case, this C|Net article missed a critical distinction. Network sniffers can only make sense out of unencrypted network traffic. If you use Yahoo! mail and use their secure service, the network sniffer will only pick up garbage, and your boss can't read the connection. This is because network sniffers work on the connection, not on the computers on either end.

Keyboard trackers are much more powerful. It does not matter how you encrypt your connection if your computer is running a keyboard sniffer, and keyboard sniffers actually pick up everything you do.

Both are quite invasive, but the keyboard sniffer is significantly more difficult to avoid if you're trying to use a personal e-mail account.


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