Do You Know What Your Employees Are Doing Online?

If You Don’t, You’re At Risk!

The Internet and e-mail have become indispensible tools for business, but many companies are finding employees are using these tools as much or more for personal activities than job-related tasks.  In fact, many business owners have recognized that unrestricted use of the Internet by employees has the potential to drain, rather than enhance productivity and, at worst, can even have dire legal consequences. 

 

To reduce the risk and minimize non-productive activities, business owners are utilizing a two pronged approach: (1) Implementing an Internet Acceptable Use Policy (IAUP) and (2) installing a monitoring system to restrict and police employees’ online activities.

 

An AUP is nothing more than a written agreement that sets out the permissible workplace uses of the Internet and e-mail.  In addition to describing permissible uses, an AUP should specifically set out prohibited uses, rules of online behavior, and access privileges with penalties for violations of the policy spelled out, including security violations and vandalism of the system. 

 

Some common rules that should be included with most AUPs are:

·        All sensitive or confidential data must be encrypted before sending across the web. For example, many doctors’ offices use instant messaging (IM) to communicate from the front desk to the back office. However, many don’t realize that this is a violation of HIPAA because IM is not a secure way to transmit information about a patient or their health conditions.

·        A restriction on sharing confidential information about the company, its clients or the people working there. With social media as popular as it is, you don’t want an employee writing all about the latest company scandal on their MySpace page; it’s just not good for business!

·        Prohibition against visiting web sites that contain pornography, racism, sexism, gambling, or e-mail with any such content sent from your business. Remember, even “innocent” jokes with racist content can leave a huge black mark on your company’s reputation.

·        Absolutely no downloading of music files or other programs that are not approved by management. “Innocent” screen saver programs and jokes often contain nasty viruses that could bring down your entire system or invite a hacker into your network.

Not only does an IAUP reduce wasted hours on the net, it can reduce bandwidth and equipment needs, as well as shield you, the business owner, from possible sexual harassment and other lawsuits arising from your employee’s inappropriate use of the web.

 

An AUP Is A Good First Step,

But It’s Only Half The Battle Won

 

Unfortunately, not everyone follows policies, and some accidentally will violate your AUP. To ensure company policies are being followed, businesses are choosing to monitor all Internet activity initiated by their employees using a web content filtering software.

 

Tools available today, like Cymphonics and Surf Control, make monitoring of employee Internet usage simple and easy. Most companies choose to regularly monitor summary level activity like hours connected to the web, number of sites visited, and illegal or banned sites visited by the company while leaving detailed transaction reviews as necessary on a case-by-case basis.

 

And if someone complains that this is a violation of their privacy, rest assured that nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s not only legal but good business.  After all, they are using your company assets and if employees are focused on productive work and minimize personal use of the Internet, you’re likely to never need to address their Internet usage. Just be sure to include a clause about Internet monitoring in your AUP and have your employees sign the agreement.

 

If you’d like a FREE comprehensive Internet Acceptable Use Policy template or would like to discuss the simple options available to monitor your employee’s Internet usage, contact me today via phone at 209-477-4390 or via email at sales@ez-netsys.net.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to put the tools in place.

 

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