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"MessageLabs, now part of Symantec, provides a range of managed services to protect, control, encrypt and archive electronic communications. Listed as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and many other analyst reports, and with more than 19,000 clients ranging from small business to the Fortune 500 located in more than 86 countries, MessageLabs services are widely recognized as a market leader in the messaging and web security market."
Source : MessageLabs
Employee Web Use and Misuse :
Companies, their employees and the Internet
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Internet Use and Misuse
Where do you draw the line? Is it okay to send the occasional
personal email at work? What about a little internet shopping or
spending sometime on social networking sites, playing online games,
downloading pirated movies and music, gambling
or downloading porn? The internet has created
new opportunities for mischief and new challenges for managers.
In today"s office enviornment, employers have a relatively new issue
to deal with; employees
wasting time online and putting your business at risk. A large
proportion of corporate web traffic is non-work related: gambling,
music downloads, personal webmail, social networking and even
According The ePolicy Institute, of the 30% of bosses who terminated
employees for web violations in 2007, 84% cited the viewing,
downloading or uploading of pornography and otherwise offensive
or inappropriate material as the reason.
Web misuse can have serious implications for your business:
- Reduced productivity. If employees spend their
time on a social networking sites such as Facebook,
they"re not spending it doing their job.
- Security problems. Malware hides on websites
and can install itself as users browse infected pages.
MessageLabs Intelligence reports that the number
of new, malicious websites blocked each day by
MessageLabs nearly doubled (91 percent) in just
one month with 3,968 new sites intercepted daily.
- Legal risks. When users download inappropriate
material to their computers other employees may
take serious offense which in turn can create legal
liabilities for managers.
- Wasted bandwidth. Internet connections cost
money. If half your bandwidth is taken up with
non-work relatd web traffic, you could potentially
be paying twice as much as you need to and your
business-critical communications could be running
at half their speed capacity.
- 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.
- Reputation risk. Social networking can create
opportunities for employees to leak confidential
information or spread damaging rumors online.
Bad behavior by a single employee can reflect on
the reputation of the whole organization.
Blocking non-business internet access
In the face of all these problems, many managers"
first reaction might be to block all employee access
to the internet.
It makes sense to block certain sites outright. Pornography sites
are an obvious example, but most companies may also consider gambling
and game sites as utterly unrelated to work, potentially time-wasting
and block them as well. Ninety-six percent of employers who block web
access are concerned about employees visting adult sites with sexual
content. Companies also use URL blocks to stop users from visiting game
sites (61%), social networking sites (50%), entertainment 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.
However, completely blocking internet access may not be the right approach for your business.
Monitoring employee behavior online
Monitoring inappropriate use may seem to be the lesser of two evils
compared with blocking access to large parts of the internet. Having
blocked the worst websites, you may wish to trust your employees"
judgement. You may want to allow employees access to social networking
sites if it means that they can organize their social life without
spending hours on the phone. You might also allow people to shop online
if it saves them time and lets them achieve a better work-life balance.
Keep in mind, when you decide to allow employees access to the
internet, it is in your best interest to ensure that they are aware of
the laws around electronic communications in the workplace. The federal
Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) makes it clear that a
company-provided computer system is the property of the employer. U.S.
employers have the legal right to monitor all employee computer
activity, transmissions and content- including incoming, outgoing and
internal email messages, as well as web surfing, downloads and uploads.
Making sure your employees are aware of the laws surrounding internet
usage may encourage them to use better judgement when surfing the net.
It"s clear that blocking or monitoring web use requires careful
thought. Any decision needs to be backed up by a clear, acceptable
usage policy for the internet. The MessageLabs sponsored whitepaper,
Not Just Words: Enforce Your Email and Web Acceptable Usage Policies
(AUP), written by The ePolicy Institute, is a good resource to help
determine what should be covered in your AUP.
Each company has its own ethos. Some managers may take a more
laissez-faire approach while others want to lock everything down. Some
people need full access to the web and companies may wish to give some
departments or individuals more latitude than others. A good example is
your Human Resources department who might use Facebook or Linkedin for
recruiting purposes. The use of social networking sites may be suitable
in that capacity, but your Finance department may not have a
work-related use for such sites.
When thinking about employee internet access and your company"s well-being, consider the following:
- Do I have a solution in place that can effectively
block web-born malware, viruses and spyware?
- Does my solution allow me to create web
filtering and monitoring rules for different groups
or employees? How flexible is my solution?/li>
- Have I clearly defined a written Web Acceptable
In the end, it comes down to choice. Where do you draw the line? How
do you balance individual access with the overall protection and good
of the business? What is the correct balance between monitoring and
blocking? There is no right answer. It varies from company to company.
But there is, perhaps, a right way to go about it.
Our Solution: MessageLabs Web Security Service
Because the MessageLabs service operates in the company"s network of
data centers, there is no hardware to buy, no hefty up-front capital
costs, no ongoing upgrades or maintenance and no software licences;
just a predictable per-user fee.
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. The same ClientNet portal gives managers
detailed reports on internet use in their company. In addition to
policy management, Skeptic&8482; technology gives MessageLabs a unique ' and
powerful ' way to protect its clients against web-born malware. When
your employees ask for a web page, the request goes through our system
first so we can scan the page for malware and check it against your
The MessageLabs Web Security service gives companies the ability to
monitor and enforce their internet usage policies; whether they are
very restrictive or very liberal, whether they favor monitoring or
blocking. MessageLabs service brings site monitoring and URL filtering
together with industry leading anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.
As the world wide web becomes an increasingly more important business
tool, companies need the best possible solution to help protect their
computer systems, their reputation and their employees. MessageLabs
delivers those tools.
For more informaiton or to sign up for a FREE Trial, please visit www.messagelabs.com/trials/free_web.
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