Sending an e-mail is as common as making a phone call.
"I send an e-mail at least once a day or probably more than that," says Kim Crabtree of Bakersfield.
But, how secure are the e-mails you send and receive, and the ones you delete?
"In most cases, it is not a lot of times, especially with large corporations. They have what's called e-mail archiving,” says Shane Swanson, Chief Operating Officer of ARRC Technology in Bakersfield. “So, regardless of what you do on your side, that e-mail is essentially, is stored in some archive somewhere that can be stored some time thereafter.”
Swanson says where you send an e-mail is most important because some public servers and wireless networks put you at a greater risk of e-mail hacking than using a personal internet connection at home.
“Most people don’t realize that when they’re accessing their e-mail over the internet or a hotel connection or another wireless or even a hardwire connection, that information can be stolen,” Swanson says. “There are viruses and different threats that are out there that can actually read that information across the internet connection and actually take whatever information that’s in those packets."
With the FBI investigating personal e-mails in the David Petraeus scandal, many people are shocked to find the e-mails you delete, don't disappear.
“That’s pretty scary,” Kim Crabtree says. “And, I don’t understand why it would not be totally deleted and gone.”
Scott Belden, Attorney and Managing Partner at Klein, DeNatale, and Goldner, says the government and the police have an ability to get access to anyone’s e-mails either directly from the person or the internet service provider.
“They can issue subpoenas in certain cases or just request them and get them,” Belden says. “So, the reality is even if you deleted it at home, burn and bury your computer, the e-mail can still be accessed, even if you send it between your personal e-mail accounts.”
Robin Paggi works with employment attorneys at WorkLogicHR in northwest Bakersfield. Paggi says people should have no expectation of privacy on the internet.
"Once you get on social media, whether it's e-mail or Twitter or what have you, it is not private. And, anyone who thinks that it is private is surely going to be disappointed," Paggi says. “Case after case has demonstrated that things that we think are private are not private, and they are used against us.”
Swanson says the only way to secure your e-mail is to have it encrypted, where your information is can’t be read until it reaches the other server to your sender and is unencrypted. He says make sure your anti-virus and other software is up to date to prevent your computer's vulnerability.
“We take e-mail for granted. E-mail is such a great tool. We can get a lot of information done, but a lot of times we try to hide behind e-mails,” Swanson says. “And, sometimes that can cause us bigger problems down the road."