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Employee Web Use and Misuse:Companies, their employees and the InternetA MessageLabs Whitepaper; October 08
MessageLabs Internet Use and Misuse Web misuse can have serious implications for your business:Web Security Where do you draw the line? Is it okay to send the occasional personal email at work? What about • Reduced productivity. If employees spend theirservice gives a little internet shopping or spending sometime time on a social networking sites such as Facebook, on social networking sites, playing online games, they’re not spending it doing their job.companies downloading pirated movies and music, gambling or downloading porn? The internet has created • Security problems. Malware hides on websitesthe ability to new opportunities for mischief and new challenges and can install itself as users browse infected pages. for managers. MessageLabs Intelligence reports that the numbermonitor and of new, malicious websites blocked each day by MessageLabs nearly doubled (91 percent) in justenforce their Worldwide worries one month with 3,968 new sites intercepted daily.2internet usage In today’s office enviornment, employers have a • Legal risks. When users download inappropriate relatively new issue to deal with; employees material to their computers other employees maypolicies. wasting time online and putting your business at take serious offense which in turn can create legal risk. A large proportion of corporate web traffic liabilities for managers. is non-work related: gambling, music downloads, personal webmail, social networking and even • Wasted bandwidth. Internet connections cost pornography sites. money. If half your bandwidth is taken up with non-work relatd web traffic, you could potentially According The ePolicy Institute, of the 30% of be paying twice as much as you need to and your bosses who terminated employees for web violations business-critical communications could be running in 2007, 84% cited the viewing, downloading or at half their speed capacity. uploading of pornography and otherwise offensive or inappropriate material as the reason.1 • Unlicensed software. When users download and install software from the internet, they create a legal risk. Software piracy is illegal. If an organization uses illegal copies of software, it may face a civil suit and company directors risk criminal penalties. Unwanted websites • Reputation risk. Social networking can create MessageLabs protects thousands of businesses opportunities for employees to leak confidential from inappropriate web use. Blocked sites fall information or spread damaging rumors online. into the following categories: Bad behavior by a single employee can reflect on the reputation of the whole organization. Categories Most Blocked Sites Advertisements & popups 44.5% Blocking non-business internet Chat 28.3% access In the face of all these problems, many managers’ Streaming media 4.7% first reaction might be to block all employee access Unclassified 4.0% to the internet. Games 3.2% It makes sense to block certain sites outright. Downloads 2.0% Pornography sites are an obvious example, but most companies may also consider gambling and game sites Personals and dating 1.9% as utterly unrelated to work, potentially time-wasting and block them as well. Ninety-six percent of employers Adult/sexually explicit 1.8% who block web access are concerned about employees Web-based email 1.7% visting adult sites with sexual content. Companies also use URL blocks to stop users from visiting game sites Blogs and forums 1.2% (61%), social networking sites (50%), entertainment Source: MessageLabs Intelligence, July 2008 sites (27%) ; sports sites (21%) and external blogs (18%) according to the 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.3 1 NotJust Words: Enforce Your Email and Web Acceptable Usage Policies ; Author Nancy Flynn, Director, The ePolicy Institute 2 MessageLabs Intelligence Report July 2008: www. Messagelabs.com/resources/mlireports 3 2007 Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute. Survey results available at www.epolicyinstitute.com 2 WHITEPAPER: Employee Internet Use and Misuse: Companies, their employees and the Internet
However, completely blocking internet access may notbe the right approach for your business. When thinking about employee internet access and your company’s well-being, consider the following: MessageLabs service brings • Do I have a solution in place that can effectivelyMonitoring employee behavior online block web-born malware, viruses and spyware? site monitoringMonitoring inappropriate use may seem to be thelesser of two evils compared with blocking access to • Does my solution allow me to create web and URL filtering filtering and monitoring rules for different groups large parts of the internet. Having blocked the worstwebsites, you may wish to trust your employees’ or employees? How flexible is my solution? together withjudgement. You may want to allow employees • Have I clearly defined a written Web Acceptable industry leadingaccess to social networking sites if it means that Usage Policy?they can organize their social life without spending anti-virus andhours on the phone. You might also allow people In the end, it comes down to choice. Where do youto shop online if it saves them time and lets them draw the line? How do you balance individual access anti-spywareachieve a better work-life balance. with the overall protection and good of the business? What is the correct balance between monitoring and protection.Keep in mind, when you decide to allow employees blocking? There is no right answer. It varies fromaccess to the internet, it is in your best interest company to company. But there is, perhaps, a rightto ensure that they are aware of the laws around way to go about it.electronic communications in the workplace. Thefederal Electronic Communications Privacy Act(ECPA) makes it clear that a company-provided Our Solution: MessageLabs Webcomputer system is the property of the employer.U.S. employers have the legal right to monitor all Security Serviceemployee computer activity, transmissions and Because the MessageLabs service operates incontent- including incoming, outgoing and internal the company’s network of data centers, there is noemail messages, as well as web surfing, downloads hardware to buy, no hefty up-front capital costs, noand uploads. Making sure your employees are ongoing upgrades or maintenance and no softwareaware of the laws surrounding internet usage may licences; just a predictable per-user fee.encourage them to use better judgement whensurfing the net. From a single portal, managers can set up policies – blocking sites individually or by category. They can also set different policies for different types of users.Policy matters The same ClientNet portal gives managers detailedIt’s clear that blocking or monitoring web use requires reports on internet use in their company. In additioncareful thought. Any decision needs to be backed up to policy management, Skeptic™ technology givesby a clear, acceptable usage policy for the internet. MessageLabs a unique – and powerful – way toThe MessageLabs sponsored whitepaper, Not Just protect its clients against web-born malware. WhenWords: Enforce Your Email and Web Acceptable your employees ask for a web page, the request goesUsage Policies (AUP), written by The ePolicy through our system first so we can scan the page forInstitute, is a good resource to help determine what malware and check it against your company policies.should be covered in your AUP. The MessageLabs Web Security service givesEach company has its own ethos. Some managers companies the ability to monitor and enforcemay take a more laissez-faire approach while others their internet usage policies; whether they arewant to lock everything down. Some people need full very restrictive or very liberal, whether they favoraccess to the web and companies may wish to give monitoring or blocking. MessageLabs service bringssome departments or individuals more latitude than site monitoring and URL filtering together with industryothers. A good example is your Human Resources leading anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. Asdepartment who might use Facebook or Linkedin for the world wide web becomes an increasingly morerecruiting purposes. The use of social networking important business tool, companies need the bestsites may be suitable in that capacity, but your possible solution to help protect their computerFinance department may not have a work-related systems, their reputation and their employees.use for such sites. MessageLabs delivers those tools. For more informaiton or to sign up for a FREE Trial, please visit www.messagelabs.com/trials/free_web.4 Not Just Words: Enforce Your Email and Web Acceptable Usage Policies ; Author Nancy Flynn, Director, The ePolicy InstituteWHITEPAPER: Employee Internet Use and Misuse: Companies, their employees and the Internet 3