IT departments and management in all companies have to make a tough decision: How should employee Internet use be monitored and controlled. In this guest post, Casper Manes offers eight arguments in favor of using Internet monitoring tools.
As tempting as it may be to just permit open Internet access and pretend everything is going to be OK, the risks this presents to companies can be great. That doesn’t mean IT needs to block all Internet access except what’s needed for work. There’s a happy medium that can be provided by Internet monitoring software. Let’s take a look at eight reasons why Internet monitoring software is necessary to help protect users and the company from the threats Internet access presents:
1. Malware can infect users’ systems
Whether a site has been compromised, a user is misdirected to a hostile page or a download carries malware, users are at risk every time they open a browser. Keeping systems patched and antivirus software running and updated are two of the three most important ways to protect users. Securing their web surfing by blocking access to compromised sites and scanning downloads is a great way to add another layer to the company’s security defenses. When downloads can be scanned with multiple engines, your company’s security is greatly improved.
2. Phishing sites can compromise users’ and the company’s security
Phishing attacks are after far more than an individual’s PII (Personally Identifiable Information). They often target business email addresses to gain access to corporate systems, like remote access or banking systems. Internet monitoring software augments email content filtering, so that if a phishing message gets through, the user is protected from accessing the phishing site.
3. Adult content does not belong at work
What folks do on their own time is their own business, but there’s a reason Google and sites have a “Safe Search” option. Internet monitoring software can help ensure there are no ‘oopses’ as a result of a poorly phrased search string.
4. Objectionable content can cause HR issues
Beyond adult content, there’s a lot on the Internet that can cause issues at the office, and no one should have to worry about working in an environment they find hostile. Internet monitoring software can also ensure no one pulls up controversial content that has no real purpose while on the clock.
5. Streaming media can cost your company money and slow down the real work
Movies, TV shows and music are all very popular content on the Internet. When a user streams a TV show at home, they are using their own bandwidth on their own time. But when dozens of users stream Internet radio or download the latest blockbuster film, at best they are using up their employer’s limited bandwidth — and at worst, they are wasting time not doing their job.
6. Productivity killers can burn hours per day
And speaking of not doing their job, have you ever gone online to check one quick thing, then got distracted by a link that leads to another link, and another and another? Of course you have – so have I. I just burned 30 minutes between topic 5 and topic 6 without even realizing it! Internet monitoring software can do more than just block personal use. It can permit it, but ration it, so that employees really can make that quick check but then get back to work.
7. File transfers can bypass other controls
This is especially important when your company handles confidential customer information, or deals with other sensitive data. There are a ton of file transfer sites, cloud storage sites and other ways users can move data into and out of your company. If you need to ensure that users don’t have a way to bypass your data leakage protections, Internet monitoring software is a great way to do so.
8. Webmail can cause problems both inbound and outbound
Personal webmail can be particularly dangerous, especially since it can provide a way in for malware and a way out for sensitive or confidential data. With the number of web mail services growing all the time, the best way to prevent users from accessing them is to use Internet monitoring software to block them.
Internet monitoring software can provide you with that happy balance – not too restrictive, not too open. It can help companies give users safe, open and respectful Internet access that is just right, while ensuring that both they and the company are protected.
About the author: This guest post was provided by Casper Manes on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Learn more about why you need Internet monitoring software.
All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.