Monitoring Internet Traffic at work

By admin | September 27th, 2011

If you are small or mid-sized business owner, you need to read this:

At TSI, 100% of all our clients have some type of full-time Internet connection, 99% use a hardware firewall and 8 % monitor Internet usage  within their own organizations (which means 92% don’t!)  It always amazes me that when I ask a business owner about how they monitor Internet usage, I often hear back “My people work very hard here, they don’t have time to spend time on the Internet”  Really?

As part of the services we provide to our client, we update firmware, licenses, subscriptions and also review security logs on the firewalls that we manage. Sometimes, these tasks require  that we look at users’ activity logs,  in particular when the clients report that the Internet is slow.  Often, upon the reviewing of some these logs, we find that the cause of the problem is due to abuse of Internet usage (social media, Internet radio, live video, YouTube, etc.). I personally have been working with the Internet for over 20 years now and I think I have seen it all but I am still shocked when I see the Internet activities of  some people that are supposedly “working very hard”.  Many business owners still do not make the link to : Lack of Internet monitoring = loss of productivity

According to Snapshot Spy, an Internet Monitoring company.

– 30 to 40% of Internet use in the workplace is not related to business

– 64% of employees say they use the Internet for personal interest during working hours

– 70% of all Internet porn traffic occurs during the nine-to-five work day

– 37% of workers say they surf the Web constantly at work

– 77.7% of major U.S. companies keep tabs on employees by checking their e-mail, Internet, phone calls, computer files, or by videotaping them at work

– 63% of companies monitor workers’ Internet connections and 47% store and review employee e-mail

– 27% of companies say that they’ve fired employees for misuse of office e-mail or Internet connections, and 65% report some disciplinary measure for those offenses.

According to another survey by International Data Corp (IDC),

– 30 to 40% of internet access is spent on non work related browsing, and a staggering 60% of all online purchases are made during working hours

– 90 percent of employees feel the Internet can be addictive, and 41 percent admit to personal surfing at
work for more than three hours per week. Some estimates reveal that computer crime may cost as much as $50 billion per year

– Around 80% of computer crime is committed by “insiders”. They manage to steal $100 million by some estimates; $1 billion by others. The average fraud inflicts a loss of about $110,000 per corporate/organization victim, and $15,000 to each individual victim

–  60% of Security Breaches occur within the Company – behind the Firewall

–  25% of corporate Internet traffic is considered to be “unrelated to work”. 30-40% of lost productivity is accounted for by cyber-slacking

Most studies show 70% of companies have had sex sites accessed using their network. 32.6% of workers surf the net with no specific objective; men are twice as likely as women. When asked “should employers monitor, limit, block or control your Internet access while at work?” over 60 % of employees said “yes”. On average, workers spend 21 hours per week online at the office, as oppose to only 9.5 hours at home.  27% of Fortune 500 organisations have defended themselves against claims of sexual harassment stemming from inappropriate email.

Traditionally, employers have been responsible and liable for the actions of their employees in the workplace. However, if an organisation can demonstrate a “duty of care” to reduce unacceptable employee activity, then it could minimize it’s potential for liability.

Chevron faces a $2 million lawsuit as a result of an employee’s email that allegedly included sexist content. A company with 1,000 Internet users could lose upwards of $35 million in productivity annually from just an hour of daily Web surfing by employees 90% of respondents (primarily large corporations and government agencies) detected computer security breaches within the previous 12 months, 80% acknowledged financial losses due to computer breaches, 44% were willing and/or able to quantify their losses, at more than $455 million.
The most serious financial losses occurred through theft of proprietary information respondents reported more than $170 million) and financial fraud (respondents reported approximately $116 million).
Estimated that the greatest threat to intellectual property is trusted insiders; 70% of security breaches come from inside.

There are many tools on the market that allow you to monitor Internet usage within  your organization.  Companies like Spector, Snapshot Spy, Surfcontrol and Interguard specialize in this market alone.  At TSI, we mostly utilize some of the tools provided by one of our vendors, Sonicwall and use GMS to perform this monitoring.  If you want to see how GMS operates, download the following document

I believe that Internet monitoring can be interpreted by some peope as too intrusive but I you are running a business and need your employees to focus their attention to the company needs while they are at work, you need to implement monitoring.



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