Business, personal email not a good mix

It may seem efficient to consolidate your email accounts by forwarding personal email to your work account, or vice versa. Don't do it, say information technology services staff.  You not only risk exposing your personal correspondence to disclosure, but you may inadvertently violate federal laws or university policy.

Here are some good email tips from ITS' network and communications director Angela Bradley and senior systems analysts Kent Ziebell and Mike Lohrbach.

Ask friends and family to send messages to your personal email account

Friends and family should send messages to you at your Google, Microsoft, Yahoo or some other personal email account. One issue is privacy. Anything that shows up on your university Outlook Exchange account is subject to review under various business and legal processes such as open records, audits and lawsuits. So there's always the possibility that mail sent to or from your account could be wrapped up in these procedures and possibly disclosed.

Eliminating or minimizing personal email traffic on your university account also keeps you on the right side of university policy, which states that personal use of computers and electronic materials should be restricted to incidental and emergency use.

Use Outlook Exchange for university business

Iowa State owns the data (email) on the ISU Exchange server. That's a good thing for educators, who must comply with various privacy and data protection laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which enforces confidentiality of student information, and export control laws, which regulate the transfer of items including certain technical data outside of the United States or to foreign persons in the United States.

If you do university business on a personal email account, you can't necessarily control who can view that data and where in the world that data is stored. That puts you at greater risk of violating FERPA or export control laws.

Don't assume your personal email is off-limits to public disclosure

Email that's written or received in the course of conducting university business is considered a public record. It doesn't matter if the mail lives on your Outlook Exchange account or your personal email account. It's subject to public records law and obligations to preserve public records.

Mobile devices make for easy viewing of multiple mail accounts

Most mobile devices allow you to maintain separate business and personal email accounts while viewing all your inboxes in one big mail mashup. Look for "all inboxes" or something similar on the mobile mail client.