Protecting Against the Business Risks of Unrestricted Internet Access

By Superior Blogger | Published June 25, 2012

Content Filtering of employees’ web activity is often viewed negatively in the workplace. It conjures the image of a “big-brother” intrusion into the privacy rights of employees. However, unrestricted internet access creates many challenges and risks to business, whether intentional or inadvertent.  These risks are becoming more serious and can be broken down into the following categories:

Increased Vulnerability to Internet-based Attacks

Users can potentially visit websites that are infected with viruses or spy ware and activate software that puts the company’s computer network at risk for hacking, and unauthorized access to sensitive information. Disreputable websites may install programs that can expose computers on the network to back-door attacks and intrusions.  These intrusions may go undetected for a period of time, creating a significant security risk to your customer’s information.

Productivity Loss and Inappropriate Use of Resources

The following statistics have been collected by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management):

  • 30 – 40 % of employee Internet activity is non-work-related, according to IDC Research.
  • A major financial company states that 72 % of its customers plan to buy or sell mutual funds over the next six months, and 92 % of these, plan to do so online during work hours.
  • 28 % of individuals making gift purchases do so from their offices or cubicles.

Besides the significant loss of productivity, internet bandwidth can also be severely strained. Users downloading movies or engaged in file swapping are not a rarity, often times resulting in a general slowdown of the company’s internet access. This can curtail valid business activities conducted over the internet such as email and sales transactions. As these incidents are typically intermittent, it can be very difficult to detect and confine.

Legal Liability

Allowing unrestricted internet access can often result in employees visiting pornographic and other offensive web-sites or sites that enable illegal activity. This creates a major legal concern for the business community. Businesses need to protect themselves from potential legal liabilities that can arise when an employee is repeatedly exposed to offensive material anywhere in the workplace. The company can be sued for tolerating harassment and fostering a hostile work environment. Additionally, a business assumes liability if employees visit peer-to-peer networking and file sharing websites, and engage in copy right violations.

These and other concerns should motivate business managers to reassess their attitude toward providing unrestricted access to the Internet.  All companies should establish a formal Internet Acceptable Usage Policy that should be disseminated to all employees and enforced. Many easy to manage and economical content filters exist in the marketplace to facilitate your usage policy and help ensure the security of your computing environment. We will discuss these issues in a future post.

With further questions about content filtering and internet use in the workplace, contact Superior Technology Solutions. We look forward to sharing our extensive technology background with your organization. For more information, visit us on the web at or call us at 845-735-3555.

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