A university in Northern Ireland was commissioned by SurfControl to conduct a study of business e-mail use. The study, which was released in early September, should scare corporate managers because it demonstrates how potentially vulnerable e-mail systems really are to the biggest messaging threat of all: lawsuits.Here\u2019s a sampling of what the study found:* Twenty-eight percent of employees have used their corporate e-mail system to send sexually oriented content to a co-worker, while 31% have e-mailed this type of content to someone outside the organization. Three to four percent of workers do this every day.* Fifty-one percent of corporate employees have been exposed to sexually explicit materials via a Web download from a co-worker, while 28% said they had downloaded this type of content.The potential for disaster from this type of behavior is enormous. Chevron, for example, had to pay $2.2 million to several employees several years ago because co-workers had sent sexually explicit e-mail to them. Another source says that more than one-quarter of Fortune 500 companies have been accused of allowing sexual harassment in the workplace because of an abuse of e-mail or the Web.In short, the potential liability for significant economic and other damage to an organization is quite real. For an organization that does nothing about controlling its employees\u2019 e-mail and Web usage, the issue is less of \u201cif\u201d and more of \u201cwhen\u201d a lawsuit will be brought claiming damages of some kind.For example, consider the following. Assume that 50% of workers in a 2,000-employee company have, at some point, been exposed to sexually explicit material on the job and that there is only a 1-in-1,000 chance that such an employee will sue as a result. Statistically, that means that there is a 63% chance that the company will be sued by at least one employee.There is growing interest in e-mail content filtering systems to intercept a variety of threats, both for internal and external e-mail. While these systems are often implemented to prevent confidential data or other types of valuable content from being sent through e-mail, their value in reducing corporate liability from sexual harassment or hostile workplace claims cannot be underestimated.