It used to be the stolen kisses in the cleaning closet and the joint business trips, but today’s tracking of illicit employee behavior has reached a new level of surveillance. Almost every communication and every message is tracked, recorded and cataloged by a company’s IT department. Here are three things to watch out for if you are personalizing your work communications:

Email – In the US, organizations own the email that their employees use to conduct work. They own all the communication, even email flagged as private. Routinely companies are being required to capture and store all electronic emails in the case of litigation and discovery.

This means that if you are using the company’s email system to send notes and messages to your lover while at work, there is an extremely high likelihood that it is being captured, stored, and indexed for later retrieval. There is third-party software on the market that is able to actively monitor internal email within a corporation.

Two examples are Mimesweeper for Microsoft Exchange from Clearswift and Reveal for Novell GroupWise from GWAVA. And don’t think you are being sneaky by deleting those emails right after you send them. Today, most email systems allow the employee to delete the email from their local storage, but retain a copy on the corporate email server that is later backed up.

A rule of thumb with email…life is short, email is forever.

Instant Messaging – Relatively new in the corporate space, IM has been around a long time amongst teens, now referred to as Chat. Instant messaging allows instantaneous communication between two computers. One person writes something which appears instantly on the other person’s computer. The other recipient is able to instantly respond back in real-time.

Instant Messaging used to be considered a fairly safe means of communicating something in secret, but today many companies track the ports through the company’s firewall that allows chat. This monitoring oftentimes includes capturing of all chat messages for storage as part of the electronic communication of the organization.

Chat also allows the sending of live video feed as well as documents. Chat messages oftentimes pass through a third-party server and can be captured and stored; also, most Chat software today has automatic archiving built in. Even if you believe it is being deleted on your side, the other side might be capturing everything.

Dateline’s To Catch a Predator is an excellent example of people who thought they were chatting in private only to have their secret messages read aloud on national television. A company delivering Instant Messaging Monitoring is Pearl Software with their IM Echo product.

Texting – With the advent of mobile devices, texting has gained popularity in the US, especially within companies deploying BlackBerry devices. Texting is the ability to send a text message between devices similar to the manner that Instant Messaging sends messages between computers.

Referred to as SMS, or Texting, these devices can send short or long messages straight to the recipient without using an email client or email server. More and more companies are now using software Retain for BlackBerry Enterprise Server from GWAVA to track the communication of their employees using texting devices.

One company deployed BlackBerry SMS and PIN tracking software with a sampling of their corporate log files. Within the first hour a Senior Executive was identified as having an affair with another employee simply from the content of the text messages.

In the good old days you could avoid getting caught at work having an affair by being discreet and not showing any outward signs, but today, a short email, an errant instant message, or a quick indiscreet text can get you tracked, caught, and exposed almost as fast as you sent the message in the first place. A word of advice, don’t leave an e-trail. Stick to love notes passed under the desk. Your career may just thank you.