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There is a fresh joined candidate in our team and during screen share in a meeting my manager claims to have seen Netflix open in new teammate's browser window. As a result the manager sent me and the new teammate the following email:

I understand that our office was potentially exposed to virus because of opening irrelevant files / websites. Fortunately IT team traced and fixed it. The IT team is still trying to find out the cause behind but as a precaution, please do not click on any email / links which are not related to office work.   Please take a serious note of this and do not open any doubtful email irrespective if it is a personal or office laptop connected to our servers.

Also strictly do not use any websites which are not needed during the work – for eg Netflix, gaming websites, hotstar, shopping etc. For further details please refer out IT Policy or you can contact with HR

While I am not defending the new teammate here but the email was sent to me as well with IT in cc. IT might feel it was me or both of us. I have never misused office hours by browsing irrelevant websites or on Netflix etc.

I know the e-mail he sent is wrong on several levels. I just wanted to clarify that "hey it's not me, IT can check my browsing history if in doubt ".

Is it appropriate to reply this way? What is the best way for me to defend myself on the email?

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    Are you sure you were sent the email as someone to blame? Maybe it's because you were just in the same meeting. Or maybe you've been working most closely with the new teammate. Or maybe you were the only person the boss mentioned the Netflix thing to when he saw it. Either way, the boss's email is relatively polite and seems like a harmless reminder in the long run. – TylerW May 11 at 18:40
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    The email isn't "wrong on several levels". Actually ist it's a pretty professional way of getting the problem fixed. – DonQuiKong May 11 at 19:05
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    Is there more than the two of you in the office that are under your manager? If there are others who have not gotten a similar email from the manager then that dramatically changes the best answer. – Anketam May 11 at 19:33
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    btw sending and remind policies to all team members is generally seen as avoiding singling out one – Michael Durrant May 11 at 20:32
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    The manager's e-mail sounds a bit like it's implying that company computers systems got a virus because someone visited Netflix.com, which is not likely. – Paul D. Waite May 12 at 13:49
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Here's one way to look at it:

  • The manager is being "polite" by emailing everyone, rather than, just the culprit.

So you don't have to worry.

Reply language?

If you do really want to reply, here's the language to use.

Reply only to Boss:

Thanks boss, just to assure you. I have never, and would never, open Netflix at work. Cheers Jane

the key points are

  1. make it very short as in the example

  2. without saying anything at all about anyone else

  3. putting it on the record that you certainly did not do this

I feel that replying to "boss + IT" would be going too far. That would be crossing the line to subtly "correcting your boss".

IMO replying only to boss "puts it on record" - and that's enough.

It's a tricky issue whether to reply or not. If you do reply, I suggest language following the three points above.

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    "I have never, and would never, open Netflix at work" <-- This is basically "outing" the other employee. I don't think creating the opportunity for repercussions is a wise one. – Xavier J May 11 at 16:16
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    @Fattie not to HR, to IT. Which has more likely than not seen worse abuses from several people than simply watching Netflix on the side during a meeting. I think responding at all is a mistake, if you're going to - be vague and short "thanks for the cyber security reminders, I've always followed these policies, but doesn't hurt to be reminded" - but even that is excessive/pointless/not worth it (imo) – TCooper May 11 at 18:11
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    I'd be careful with the explicit Netflix mention, that can be read as overly specific denial - like "certainly not netflix but I didn't say a thing about Spotify, that is just music after all" ;). And on the other hand, it can also get you into additional trouble, should you somewhen in the future - perhaps accidentally because a colleague shares a "funny link" click on a Netflix url and it just happens to be the one case where someone sees your screen or traces your traffic. It's something I would find fine to say to a boss one knows, but regarding writing I'd be a bit more careful. – Frank Hopkins May 11 at 20:59
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    "not to HR, to IT. Which has more likely than not seen worse abuses from several people than simply watching Netflix on the side during a meeting." Speaking as someone in IT, they probably had to pause Netflix to read the email. – Chris Bouchard May 12 at 2:12
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    had my +1 up til "it's a tricky issue". It's not tricky. The question asked was "is it appropriate to reply?" and the answer is "no". – Alex M May 12 at 16:52
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Replying is just inviting a dialogue. There is no need and no positive side to that.

The email is just stating policy, there's no accusation or anything like that in it that needs to be addressed.

It's clear that any infection came through opening an email attachment or clicking a malicious website link in an email (still to be determined). The Netflix portion is just a statement of policy and separate to that, it's not cited as a source of infection.

So the first part was a warning about email security, and the second part was clarifying company policy on other issues.

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    Certainly, 'putting it on record that it wasn't me' is the thing I was looking for. – chrono_tachy May 11 at 13:11
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    Ignoring it is implying that it has nothing to do with you. I see a reply as being an recognition that it is an issue of some sort. Obviously no one would admit it. – Kilisi May 11 at 13:14
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    @chrono_tachy If it isn't too late, please take Kilisi's advice and do not reply with a message that "it wasn't me, boss!" Just let it be. Trust me on this. – Michael Geary May 12 at 7:24
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    It sounds very similar to my apartment complex's rules about drugs: if any are reported, management has to [initially] post a notice on everyone's door reminding them about the policy, even if they know exactly who it was and are eagerly counting down the policy steps before involving the police. (Not to mention that, given IT's capabilities, it's almost certain that the manager either already knows or doesn't care to know whodunit.) – JamesTheAwesomeDude May 12 at 19:01
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    If I'd sent the email and got a reply denying it, I'd either question why they'd sent me a pointless email or wonder if they had a guilty conscience. – matt freake May 12 at 21:07
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There was absolutely nothing "inappropriate" about your manager's email. A situation arose that needed to be addressed and they chose a common and perfectly acceptable method of dealing with it.

Not only is no reply is necessary, no reply is appropriate. Do not reply at all.

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It looks like a quite appropriate email from that manager, as long as what he states is within company policies. Maybe the email should ideally have been sent by the corporate IT security department rather than your own immediate manager, but that depends on your corporate culture.

If you feel it applies to you because you're in a habit of using work time and equipment for personal entertainment maybe you should change your habits. If you don't feel it applies to you there's no reason to be alarmed or offended by it.

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Don't reply. This email is nearly exactly how i would write it.

  • It uses a passive form "we were exposed" instead of "somebody did"

  • It doesn't threaten, but it kindly asks

  • It merely reinstates what probably are the rules already

  • It serves as a document that your manager did her/his job to remind employees (especially new ones) about behavior

  • The only critique which I have here is that I feel that it dresses a disciplinary question into something else

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