Hey Hillary, most of us can't use personal e-mail for work

Report: Hillary Clinton used personal email for work
Report: Hillary Clinton used personal email for work

Hillary Clinton isn't the only one who could get in trouble for using a personal e-mail account to do official business. You could get fired for doing the same thing.

Many companies, particularly large employers, have policies that prohibit their employees from using their personal e-mail account for work. Violating those policies can definitely lead to dismissal, according to Robert Douglas, president of IT consulting firm PlanetMagpie, but such cases are rare.

"For the most part people don't use personal e-mail for work if they're being above board," said Robert Douglas, president of IT consulting firm PlanetMagpie.

Related: Clinton had no State Department e-mail address

It came to light this week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only used her personal e-mail to conduct official U.S. business.

Douglas said that employees actually put themselves at risk by using personal accounts at work. Doing so opens the door for a company to search all of an employee's personal e-mails, he said, noting that it can capture a user's keystrokes and passwords if it wants to.

Employees who use their personal e-mail for work also put their companies at an increased risk of getting viruses or malware on their servers. And they're putting sensitive business information on servers outside the company's control. That in turn can violate the privacy of any customer the employee works with.

Of course, corporate scandals such at the Sony hack prove that using work e-mail doesn't always keep business information safe.

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Using a personal email account can also cause a problem in the event that employee is fired or leaves the company suddenly. It also looks extremely unprofessional. Most business people will think twice before responding to a work-related email using an aol.com or gmail.com address.

Douglas says that nearly all of his clients bar employees from using personal email at work, and about a third of them have software that prevents workers from even accessing their personal accounts.

"Most companies would prefer you use your work e-mail for personal items than to have you use personal e-mail in the work place," he said.

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