Internet Use in the Workplace
the great benefits the Internet gives businesses, managers
also need to control what their employees access and how
they use it. Many times, Internet access is an open invitation
to waste time. Many employees increasingly participate in
Internet chat, personal e-mailing, and online shopping and
bill-paying. Extreme cases involve online pornography and
gambling on company time.
reduce these types of activities while providing some privacy
for individual Internet use and maximizing work-hours, consider
the following strategies for controlling Internet use in
policies for Internet use. Rules need to exist
before they can be enforced. Therefore, employers must set
policies before they can take disciplinary action on Internet
abuse. Policies should indicate how much personal time an
employee can spend online. This relies heavily on the honor
system, however, because without expensive protection programs,
monitoring such time is difficult. In addition to time losses,
consider security guidelines. Nonbusiness online dabbling
increases a network’s vulnerability to viruses and
hackers, which can spell disaster.
outside risks, a business must also consider risks that
come from within. As cyber-crime levels increase, so do
the legal ramifications, including copyright laws protecting
artists from illegal music- and video-downloading. Of utmost
concern are violations of the Child Online Protection Act,
which makes it a felony to download, print, share, or possess
pornographic images of children. Despite cases in the headlines
that should serve as a deterrent, some employees continue
to view pornography on the job, and employers may be held
liable for illegal content. Many businesses think their
employees have common sense and would never do this, but
it can also happen by mistake when links to sexually explicit
websites are disguised, making them difficult to detect.
Therefore, company policies should also include rules of
engagement in relation to spammers.
Internet activity with information assurance.
Information assurance (IA) is available for large businesses
that can afford Internet security but cannot rely on the
honor system due to a large workforce. Dumb terminals are
one option; allowing employees to use company e-mail without
full Internet access is another. This type of system allows
a company to provide a password for each employee, then
track computer use as necessary. Some employees may consider
this spying, but it is perfectly legal when employees are
made aware of which types of use are appropriate. By using
defensive programming, corporations can detect software
glitches and anomalous control data flows that may indicate
viruses. In case of a major computer attack, IA specialists
should back up important data.
firewalls. A computer firewall protects networked
computers from hostile intrusions. It can take the form
of a hardware device or a software program running on a
secure host computer. Just as fire doors or firewalls protect
a building from fire damage, computer firewalls limit the
spread of damage from one subnetwork to another.
also log all attempts to enter the private network, and
trigger alarms when hostile or unauthorized entry is attempted.
They may be programmed to recognize and block certain types
of traffic, sources, destination addresses, or key words
such as “sex,” “bet,” or “adults
only.” Firewalls recognize key words using complex
rule bases that analyze the application data and determine
if the traffic should be allowed through the system. Ultimately,
the business owner or manager determines how a computer
firewall is used.
Online Security for the Future
allowing some level of personal Internet use is a nice benefit
to provide to employees, restrictions must be in place.
The honor system is always the best approach, but even the
best screening for honesty and integrity is not foolproof.
An information assurance system is a worthwhile investment.
And although the firewall is an integral part of any security
system, it is not an effective program in and of itself.
A combination of strategies based on the technology budget
is important for any business that uses the Internet.
Taillon is a global media expert and the author of
Remote Control Wars. For more information, visit www.remotecontrolwars.com
or call 800-786-1764.