Why Monitor Internet Usage?
As security professionals we often know what needs to be done, however convincing Management to invest in certain software can be hard. Monitoring Internet usage can be a controversial action, one that Management might be reluctant to agree to unless the security professional can clearly explain the reasons behind the required controls and have it done properly.
What are these reasons?
Security – The most important reason to monitor internet usage is to maintain a high level of security on the network. Threats can be blocked before they can cause damage. Users visiting potentially dangerous sites can be stopped and the administrator should explain to them why such sites are to be avoided. Malware unknowingly download by employees can be stopped before it reaches the network and is executed. Employees tricked into visiting phishing sites can be protected.
Productivity – Excessive, non work-related internet usage by employees hinders productivity. Down the line this will likely result in a company-wide internet ban if the abuse continues. A total ban can be counterproductive, and also have a demoralizing effect on the users. Monitoring internet usage can enable the administrator to identify how much time each user is spending on personal browsing. Some solutions will allow the administrator to control how much time, as well as at what times, employees are allowed unrestricted internet access – reducing the level of cyber-slacking.
Costs – Internet usage is not free. Bandwidth costs money. Excessive bandwidth usage might also deplete resources necessary for other more critical services. If employees are consuming a lot of bandwidth, through the use of streaming services for example, this might cause mission critical operations such as email to be delayed. Furthermore, if you’re running a small business and sharing the internet connection with your business website, excessive internal internet usage might result in a degraded experience to your customers. Proper monitoring can ensure that employees making excessive bandwidth use can be identified, and corrective measures can therefore be deployed. Some solutions also allow administrators to impose bandwidth usage quotas for employees.
Legal Liability – Legal liability is another problem businesses could face as a result of improper or illegal internet usage. The business might ultimately be held accountable for whatever happens on its internet connection. If employees download copyrighted material without permission or attempt to gain unauthorized access to some third-party system, this activity will be traced to the business. The business needs the internet usage records of all its employees to be able to trace who the culprit is and that can only occur if proper internet usage monitoring is taking place.
When Management is made aware of the problems a company faces in the absence of a good internet usage solution, they will understand that deploying such a product is an investment not an expense. If properly configured, internet usage monitoring software will have minimal impact on employee morale, improve security, fairness in the organization and safer browsing for employees.
This guest post was provided by Emmanuel Carabott on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on how to monitor internet usage.
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