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Surf's Up - Web Browsing Is A Serious Concern For Business

Mar 11, 2008
There are very few jobs today that do not have some interaction with the Internet. Web access is now as standard to a business as a phone. The web can become a risk to business if not managed. Ideally, usage is mostly work related in accordance with company policies. The company is then hopefully safe from malicious and inappropriate content. Faith that employees will not stray from policy is no longer enough assurance that your resources will be safe and productive. Managed Web Browsing controls how employees use the Internet while on a company's network.

Employers provide internet access to workers as a tool to perform their jobs. Access at work is similar to telephones for employees. Workers know they should not make excessive non-business or toll calls costing the company. If so, this can be considered an abuse of privilege. Unmanaged Internet access can be a serious drain on productivity and a lot more difficult to detect than excessive personal phone calls. Cases of employees running side businesses, viewing pornography, gambling and shopping during work hours are becoming common. Unchecked access also has risks of providing a vulnerable entry point for viruses, spyware, malware and a conduit for data leakage.

Managed Web browsing is about enforcing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) as it relates to company-enabled Internet access. This involves ensuring that work-related access is safe from offensive material and dangerous content. It also involves ensuring that personal Internet use is moderated and does not pose a risk to the company. This risk includes lost productivity, exposure to legal liability and loss of company confidential information. However, managed and controlled browsing is not just about technology and enforcement. It also encompasses other elements such as education and training of staff as well as clear communication and consistent application of the rules.

Why is Managed Web Browsing Important?

For an average company employing 1,000 people, the potential costs of unsecured Internet access are significant. If each employee wastes just 20 minutes per day on non-business Internet use, this can cost the company 80,000 hours of lost productivity per year. Based on an average salary of $35,000, this would equate to more than $1.4 million in lost wages. According to the ICSA (International Computer Security Association), the average cost to clean up a virus infection is $2,400 per incident. If, through unsecured Internet use, you receive just one virus infection per week, the cost of recovery could be $125,000 per year. Many companies today have formal Acceptable Use Policies for Internet, email and company resources. If not, you are strongly encouraged to quickly implement policies in your company.

These polices set the standards and expectations that employers have of appropriate Internet use within the workplace. However, all too often, employers simply print out the rules and ask employees to sign a document without adequate training or consistent enforcement. This is where technology, can provide significant benefits in terms of user education and consistent enforcement of the rules.

Managed Web browsing is critical foremost for protecting against the costs of unmanaged Internet use, but also for showing a reasonable attempt to enforce policy and protect users. Employers are expected to provide a safe working environment. This includes protecting workers against offensive content such as pornography, profanity and inappropriate graphic images. Managed Web browsing demonstrates that as an employer you have taken all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment.

Conclusion

An effective approach for Managed Web Browsing requires an array of solutions. These range from basic monitoring and reporting capabilities to full policy enforcement. Technical solutions provide consistent enforcement and reinforcement of rules. This consistency is crucial in educating users and making sure they are aware of the boundaries set by the company.

You have the responsibility to maintain your company's digital environment, with the right tools you can now also have the control to assure compliance and protect your company's assets.

Watch for coming articles on methods of detection and enforcement. You are also encouraged to visit http://enclavedata.com and pull down actual Case Studies of Companies and solutions we deployed to assure a Secured Web Gateway for Managed Browsing. We work with companies of all sizes to assure their web is secure and in compliance. Our solutions are state of the art, quick to implement, cost effective and provide the comfort to know your web environment is secure.
About the Author
Dan Schutte is President of http://enclavedata.com, specializing in messaging security, web content filtering, anti-spam software, email/IM archival and compliance. Visit our website to read actual Case Studies of how companies have successfully protected their data network and messaging systems.
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