The study found that 38% of UK companies with 1,000 or more employees hire staff to read or analyze outbound email. 40% of companies with more than 20,000 workers employ staff for this purpose. Companies appear to have good reason to worry — more than half investigated an email leak of confidential or proprietary information and nearly 2 in 5 (39.3%) investigated a violation of privacy or data protection regulations in the past year.

Additional key findings from the survey, which was fielded by Forrester Consulting, include:

– More than 1 in 3 companies (33.9%) has terminated an employee for
violating email policies in the past 12 months. More than 70% of
companies have disciplined an employee for violating email policies
in the past year.
– Companies estimate that nearly 1 in 5 outgoing emails (18.1%) contains
content that poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk.
– More than a third (33.9%) of companies report their business was
impacted by the exposure of sensitive or embarrassing information in
the last year. 14.3% were impacted by improper exposure or theft of
customer information, while 15.2% were impacted by improper exposure
or theft of intellectual property.

The study also found that other communications channels, such as blogs and message boards, are emerging as sources of risk for companies:

– Nearly half (49.1%) of companies are very concerned or concerned
about Web-based email as a conduit for exposure of confidential or
proprietary information. Respondents are also very concerned about
FTP, instant messaging, peer-to-peer networks, blogs and message
– More than 1 in 5 companies (20.5%) has disciplined an employee for
violating blog or message board policies in the last year. 3.6% of
companies fired an employee for such infractions.
– 13% of public companies investigated the exposure of material
financial information via a blog or message board posting in the
past year.