Nobody wants to be the Internet Police. We’re probably all very happy with unrestricted Internet access, and it’s none of our business what other people do online.
That all changes in a business environment. Since the company’s PCs are company assets, the company pays for bandwidth, and there are all sorts of threats out there even for users who are doing the right things, companies need Internet monitoring and filtering.
It has nothing to do with policing the Internet but it has everything to do with safeguarding your network, assets, investment and reputation.
Let’s take a look at some of the ‘bad’ things that could happen if you’re not paying close attention to how your Internet being is used.
1. Bandwidth bills
Companies exist to make money, not waste it. Unrestricted Internet access is a privilege; one that costs money. You want to make sure that you are not paying for more bandwidth than you need.
Use Internet monitoring software to ensure that critical applications have enough bandwidth to function, so you are not throwing money out the window unnecessarily.
2. HR issues with offensive content
What users do with their own time and money (and on their own computers!) is entirely their own business, but when they start to access questionable content at work, they can cause all kinds of problems.
Other users may be offended, embarrassed, or worst (for you) feel that the workplace is now hostile. That can become an HR issue and a legal one.
Internet filtering software can help you avoid those awkward conversations with HR by blocking inappropriate content. You don’t have to log it if you don’t want to, just block it – for everyone.
3. Offended Employees
HR Issues are bad enough, but when one user’s Internet habits offend others, the situation can quickly escalate.
This can impact morale, team dynamics will suffer, and some users’ sensibilities might be so hurt that they consider the workplace hostile. Web monitoring software can help you avoid issues that can spiral out of control.
4. Lost Productivity
This has happened to all of us at some point. We just want to check on one little thing; look up one simple fact, find out the score of one game, or make sure that one friend is doing okay… only to realise hours later we’ve burned half the day away online.
Internet monitoring software can support personal use of the Internet without letting users spend too much time not doing their work.
5. What Are They Doing All Day?
Most employees are hardworking, honest, and loyal. Some, not so much. Without web monitoring software, do you really know what those employees are doing when you have your back turned?
6. Games Gone Wild
Without some reasonable limits, some users may take things to extremes, spending more time on games than on doing their jobs. Don’t let this happen to your coworkers.
Use web monitoring software to ensure that people are not getting lost in the darker corners of the web.
7. No Laughing Matter
It may seem like harmless fun and games at first, but Internet access without limits can lead to chronic emailing of jokes that aren’t funny, sharing of cat videos, forwarding of chain messages, and worse.
One user’s excesses can impact all the others, distracting them and hitting productivity. Web monitoring can prevent this from happening.
8. System Crashes
One frequent outcome for a machine with malware, toolbars, adware, and other “add-ons” is loss of system stability. How often do users’ PCs crash? Internet filtering software can filter out those little add-ons that lead to system crashes.
9. Data Loss
Another frequent outcome for a machine with malware, toolbars, adware, and other “add-ons” is data loss. How expensive can it be to lose a presentation, or a customer’s order or their personal information?
Internet filtering software can filter out those little add-ons that lead to system crashes and may open a backdoor into your network through which data can be lost.
Ransomware, such as Cryptolocker, which encrypts all a victim’s data and then demands payment in exchange for the decryption key, has hit many individuals and companies hard. No payment, no data.
Web filtering can help block these attacks by preventing users from accessing compromised sites or downloading infected files.
11. Hacked Systems
Without web monitoring software, your users’ systems might be compromised and used to compromise other systems. Imagine an attacker virtually wondering through your office – all your systems at his disposal.
12. Irate Users
How do you suppose users feel, and react, when their systems crash, their data is lost, and all the hard work they’ve put in is gone?
Well, if the above is any indication, then they probably don’t feel really good about things, and if you’re the sysadmin, they are probably going to vent on you!
13. More Irate Users
Of course, if you’re lucky, they will only take out their frustrations by taking a deep breath, rather than their sysadmins. Violence, is not the answer.
14. Identity Theft
Phishing sites abound and it’s only a matter of time before one of your users clicks on a link in an email and provides too much information to the sender. Protect them by implementing Internet filtering software.
15. Copyrighted material
Whether they know it or not, whether they think it is wrong or not, sometimes users will download material from the web which they shouldn’t have. Movies, music, software… it does not matter.
You don’t want law enforcement to pay you a visit because of copyright violations. Use Internet monitoring software to keep your users from doing things they shouldn’t.
Too many websites and downloads come with that little something extra… malware. Protect your users and their machines; make sure their antivirus software is not the only thing standing between you and a bad day by using Internet filtering software to screen web pages and downloads for malware and compromised websites.
17. Spreading infections
If a single user’s machine becomes infected by malware, all of your machines on the network could be at risk. Once inside a network, worms can spread fast, and that one user’s misstep on the web has impacted everyone!
18. Loss of Internet Access
Fast forward through several of the events listed above. What do you suppose will happen if bad things continue to occur on your network?
Management may have no other choice than to take away Internet access from everyone. Can you imagine trying to do your job without the Internet? Could there be anything worse than that?
Protect open Internet access by monitoring and filtering the things that could cause problems at work.
19. Are users doing their actual work?
While you may not want to take on the role of Internet Cop, you know that there are going to be some users that will take advantage of unrestricted AND unmonitored Internet access.
Web Monitoring software can report on users’ Internet activities in aggregate or specific detail so you can be sure that people are not taking advantage of the company’s generosity.
Quickly checking in is one thing, commenting on 200 friends’ updates is something else entirely! Help users avoid temptation by placing time limits on non-business web access.
20. How will your boss feel?
Imagine how your boss, your boss’s boss, the board of directors and the CEO will feel when they find out how much money you’ve saved the company and how much better everyone’s Internet experience is now that you have deployed web monitoring software!
By Christina Goggi, Web Content Specialist at GFI Software (edited by James Henderson)