9/23/2008
12:48 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary

Risky Employee Web Use: Cloud Storms Gathering

How are you going to keep them on task when they can go to the Web? is not only a productivity question, it's a growing security concern. A new study indicates the concern is growing fast.



How are you going to keep them on task when they can go to the Web? is not only a productivity question, it's a growing security concern. A new study indicates the concern is growing fast.Web-based threats exploded more than 500 percent last year, yet barely 15 percent of small and midsized business feel their employee Web usage policies are effective.

That's one of the findings revealed in new research from security firm Webroot, and not necessarily the most shocking.

In fact, frankly, any of us who are shocked any longer by low Web usage (surfing and running unauthorized Web apps) policy-enforcement numbers are probably too easily shocked.

We all know plenty of businesses that have Web usage policies in place but pay only lip service (if that)to giving them enforceable teeth; most of know plenty more business that have no Web usage policies at all.

Despite this, 30 percent of the 648 companies surveyed have experienced compromised business security as a result of employee Web activity.

The Webroot research found that most businesses are taking precautions against e-mail borne threats (good, keep it up, but e-mail in may ways is yesterday's threat vector: ongoing, but not where the malicious action is centered today.)

And the more features the Web offers, the more temptations employees have to use it. As Webroot's COO Mike Irwin noted in a statement, 2007 was the year "cybercriminals developed new ways to attack on-site and remote employees through personal Web mail accounts, social networking sites and other Web 2.0 applications."

Three questions for you:

When's the last time you reviewed your Web usage policy (assuming your business has one) with your employees?

When's the last time you updated the policy to deal with Web 2.0 and other innovations (and threats) coming from the Cloud?

When's the last time you made clear that the policy is going to be enforced?

Take a look at your answers and adjust accordingly.

Besides which, according to the research, a third of the surveyed companies have employees spending at least an hour a day on non-business Web usage.

Here's an idea: why not just give those employees an extra day or so off each week provided they no longer use the Web for personal use at work or on company equipment.

You wouldn't be losing any productivity and you'd be shifting the risk to their machines.

(Webroot acknowledged the importance and potential of Web 2.0 for small and midsized business -- emphasis on business -- and here's a detailed bMighty look at how to put Web 2,0 to work for your company.)

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