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Many Employees Attempt To Use Web Inappropriately, Study Finds

One in five browser requests is blocked; one-third of workers frequently attempt to break policy

You might be blocking your employees from inappropriately using the Web at work -- but that doesn't stop them from trying.

That's the word from Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence unit, which posted a blogWednesday offering some statistics it has collected from users on employees' browser behavior in the office.

For all employees browsing the Web, the blog says, one in five requests are blocked due to infringement of company policy.

Users can be split into three groups, according to the research. About one-third have no blocked requests, about one-third have less than 10 percent of all requests blocked, and the remaining third have a "large proportion" of their Web requests blocked.

Twenty percent of users have more requests blocked than allowed, MessageLabs says. Fourteen percent of users have between 90 and 100 percent of all requests blocked.

"There will always be a subset of employees that are likely to try and flout the rules when browsing the Internet," says Paul Wood, the MessageLabs researcher who wrote the blog. "This behavior not only goes against company policy, but also wastes time, can be a serious drain on resources/bandwidth, and crucially increases the risk of infection by malware."

Interestingly, users who are constantly outside the office actually have fewer blocked requests than those who are in the office regularly. Users who surf the Web both in the office and on the road have the worst record for attempting inappropriate access.

"Why this is we are not sure," Wood says. "It's possible that users roaming all the time are more likely to behave in a manner that would be acceptable in the office; in a way, their roaming status is the 'norm' for them. Whereas those that browse in the office, leave, and continue to browse outside of the office may feel a slight sense of added freedom, and [consciously or subconsciously] loosen their browsing habits."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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