Internet Management Software and Employee Internet Use
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Internet Management Software and Employee Internet Use

Published by: Indigo Scape (1)
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Internet access is an undisputed business necessity these days. Managing that access is essential for all businesses -- especially with today’s increasing regulatory and security requirements. Left uncontrolled, employees with unrestricted Internet access will waste time and open the network to viruses, spyware and other security problems thus indicating a critical need for Employee Internet Management and Control measures.

The importance of computer security and the damaging effects of unrestricted Internet access are continually highlighted by the number of legal cases against employers and employees for computer misconduct.

Internet Management allows you to set limits on Internet Access and to time-wasting Web activities while still permitting Users to reach the sites they need to conduct business. Now you can completely block the Internet for some Users or restrict access to only those Websites which need to be accessed during working hours. You can also control the Internet by blocking any Website that you don’t want anyone visiting.

Policies can be enforced for acceptable use of the Internet, Websites and Downloads through Acceptable Usage Policies. Usage Policies can be applied to Users and Websites to control access and usage to various times of the day and/or on specific days.

Acceptable Use policies give companies the power to control Internet Use and to allow Internet Access within the policies considered acceptable by the company. This allows you to set limits on Internet Access and to time-wasting Web activities while still permitting Users to reach the sites they need to conduct business.

Internet Management allows you to completely block the Internet for some Users or restrict access to only those Websites which need to be accessed during working hours. You can also control the Internet by blocking any Website that you don’t want anyone visiting.

By implementing Internet Management measures your business will reduce it’s support overhead and maintenance costs by stabilizing computer systems. Internet Management safeguards businesses, protects against tampering, misuse, malicious users, increases user productivity and limits legal liability...


  • 30% to 40% of employee Internet use isn’t work related.
  • Malicious computer use and Internet misconduct costs businesses billions every year.
  • Over 60% of businesses have no internal security policy regarding the use of the Internet.
  • Anti virus software and firewalls will not protect computer systems from malicious users and employees.
  • Internet access is enemy number one for software piracy.
  • A quarter of companies have dismissed employees for Internet misconduct.
  • Adopting new security software can only change the future.

Overall there is a distinct lack of awareness of the importance of computer security. If your computer systems have only the usual virus protection and/or a firewall then your systems are at risk from internal abuse and misuse.

Software piracy and Internet Access

Increased employee access to the Internet has led to a significant rise in software piracy, according to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) annual survey of UK Corporates, as employees download illegal software. To combat this growing crime, organisations are starting to fight back by monitoring exactly what employees are up to as they surf the net, with 80% of organisations now monitoring Internet use.

With 55% of organisations giving desktop Internet access to all employees and 38% of corporates expecting the percentage of software purchased on the Internet to increase over the next twelve months, the opportunity for downloading illegal software whether intentionally or not is huge. According to the survey 54% of IT professionals think the growth of e-Commerce is largely to blame for the lack of software compliance in UK organisations because it makes the management of license ownership evidence even harder. This is supported by the fact that more than half of the respondents (54%) said they find it difficult to prove their organisation is software compliant.

Findings also revealed an increase in the perceived amount of pirated software in the UK. 83% of participants estimated 40% of software use in the UK to be pirated and some 71% of these believed the illegal software to have been purchased online with intent. This is surprising as 69% of respondents were aware of the high legal risk to their organisation in failing to be software compliant.

Other main findings show that:

  • 77% of organisations spend less than 4% of their total desktop budget on managing and controlling the use of software - indicating software compliance is not being taken as seriously as it should be bearing in mind the potential consequences of non-compliance.
  • 69% of organisations spend less than 5 man days per month on software management – an alarming figure when more than 50% said they would currently find it difficult to prove their compliance. Yet they are obviously not taking adequate action to remedy the situation.
  • 40% of companies still have no software management policy. This means the liability for IT compliance in those organisations rests solely with the company directors. If any employee is found to be using software illegally it is the company directors who face legal and financial penalties, not to mention damage to their organisation’s reputation.
  • 51% think resellers have responsibility for ensuring licences are not mislaid or lost. This is a big misconception as the responsibility for accounting for licences rests entirely with the organisation using the software.
  • 88% of organisations purchase software centrally – This shows some effort is being made to implement the controls necessary for achieving a compliant software environment and it enables the setting up of a properly managed software asset register.
  • 76% have disciplinary procedures for employees misuse of the Internet However, with 40% having no formal policies and procedures in place they would find taking proper, legal disciplinary action against an employee who has misused the Internet almost impossible.

Richard Willmott, Head of FAST Corporate Services, comments: “Regulating employee Internet and software use isn’t a big brother tactic in a negative sense. The bottom line is no company is immune from e-risk, the reality is that illegal software can not only result in costly litigation and liability for the CEO, it can also cost an organisation in terms of inefficiency and potential viruses and have a negative effect their organisation’s reputation.

“You cannot be present in every office every hour of the day to keep an eye on what employees are doing and you cannot expect employees to exercise sound judgement 100% of the time, therefore automated monitoring of Internet access makes smart business sense, particularly as 40% of companies surveyed provide no management policies to give employees guidance on what they can and can’t do.“

There are two main ways pirated software enters an organisation. Firstly as employees increasingly work remotely and ’24 by 7’, there is a growing temptation to download illegal software that is required urgently when there is no IT manager around to provide the relevant licence. Secondly, with 90% of UK workers admitting to accessing the Internet for recreational purposes in company time, the chance of pirated software being downloaded accidentally whilst ’surfing not working’ is high. This is on top of the traditional unlicensed software that is being used due to poor control regimes or lack of understanding.

This year’s results show that organisations are starting to get clued up on the importance of monitoring Internet activity. 80% of respondents said they monitor the Internet, with 75% of these companies using automated monitoring as opposed to manual interaction - an increase of 15% on last years figures. Also, 72% of organisations will discipline employees with a verbal warning or dismissal if they are found to put their organisation at risk from software piracy.

Sacking for porn surfers at work

A quarter of companies have dismissed employees for Internet misconduct with the majority of sackings for online porn, according to a survey released from Websense International Ltd., and Personnel Today magazine.

The survey - conducted among 544 human resources (HR) managers and officers from some of Britain’s largest corporations, employing an average of 2,500 people - found that 72% of UK firms have dealt with Internet misuse in the workplace. In addition, 69% of all dismissals were associated with online pornography.

After pornography, Web chat rooms (26%) and personal e-mail browsing (23%) were the second and third most-frequent complaints brought to the attention of the HR department, respectively. Forty percent of all complaints were brought to HR by co-workers unhappy with their colleagues wasting time on the Internet.

While Internet misuse within British companies is a common problem, it is an issue rarely discussed publicly. According to the survey, HR managers get involved with an average of one complaint per month, yet most prefer to deal with the problem by having a quiet word with the person in question (56%), followed by a verbal warning (29%). Nearly a quarter (23%) resort to dismissing the employee.

Jonathan Naylor, Barrister in the Employment, Pensions and Benefits Group of Morgan Cole Law Firm, said: “Dismissing an employee for Internet misuse is a substantial cost to the employer. While there are the obvious costs of advertising for new hires, recruitment, training and supervision, there are also additional financial burdens caused by the interruption to work patterns, the damage to morale and the negative publicity to the organisation as a result of the dismissal.“

A study in 2001 by IDS Brief found that the costs of replacing key staff could be as much as 150 percent of the employee’s annual salary. In addition, if the dismissal process is handled poorly by the employer, the organisation could also face Employment Tribunal proceedings, incurring further management time and costs.

Faced with the monetary troubles caused by Internet misuse and employee dismissals, many companies are using employee Internet management (EIM) software as a way to automatically enforce its existing Internet access policy.

Geoff Haggart, vice president at Websense, said: “Companies are increasingly looking to protect themselves and their employees from the legal implications from viewing pornography or downloading illegal software. EIM software supports an organisation’s efforts to improve employee productivity, conserve network bandwidth and save storage costs. It also automates management of the Internet and provides flexibility that enables employees to access acceptable content at appropriate times, such as their lunch hours.“

According to the survey, HR managers and officers believe that 20 minutes a day for personal Internet surfing is a fair and acceptable amount of time, particularly in today’s work environment in which the Internet is an integral part. However, respondents also noted that they believe the average time employees spend doing personal surfing is actually closer to 30 minutes a day.

People with their own offices may be the worst offenders at abusing their Internet privileges according to 57% of HR personnel, who believe more personal surfing gets done behind closed doors.

Indigo Scape - About the Author:


Adrian Evans is the software development director at Indigo Scape Internet Management Security Software Systems.


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