In 2013, nearly every occupation requires people to use a computer and communicate through email in some capacity. Whether that includes sending out important documents to a high-priority client or simply checking the schedule for your next server shift, there is hardly a workplace that doesn't require online correspondence.
If you work in an office, it is more than likely that you keep your inbox open all day so that you can access important messages the second they arrive. In many workspaces, this is how co-workers who are mere feet away from one another choose to keep in touch. Because of this, there have probably been many instances where you have left your email unguarded when you leave your desk, forgetting that the messages are open to prying eyes who may be passing by. Although your biggest concern may just be that a fellow employee will discover an embarrassing or confidential email, depending on the contents of your inbox, you may have bigger issues to worry about.
People often bring their personal lives to the job
Many people use their work email for business that has nothing to do with work. Since this is one of the easiest ways to get in touch with you during office hours, you may be inclined to do all sorts of online activity through this account. This can be as innocent as emailing your spouse a shopping list or confirming an order for a birthday gift purchased online.
Online banking is one convenience that you can take advantage of from your desk during office hours through your work email that may put you at risk for identity theft. Correspondence from the bank that may be sent to this account could include vital personal identification information within it, like your date of birth or Social Security number (SSN), not to mention the account number itself. Should a less-than-honest co-worker find this email in their snooping while you were away from your desk, they could not only drain your account of any funds, but use this valuable information to apply for other accounts in your name.
Keep your inbox clean
Be sure that if you do use your work email for personal business that you empty your inbox as often as possible. It's unlikely that you know everyone who enters the office and it's impossible to guarantee who uses your office computer when it belongs to the company you work at.
Participating in National Clean Out Your Inbox Week is a great way to motivate yourself to make some email inbox changes. It takes place from January 21 to February 2, 2013 — and it may just be a great start to helping you secure the safety of your privacy and your identity.