Can software manage employee internet use?

The internet age has heralded unprecedented opportunities. But with great power comes great responsibility.

The internet age has heralded unprecedented opportunities. But with great power comes great responsibility. The web is potentially the greatest source of information ever known and it can be a chasm within which no ethical boundaries exist.

So how can an organisation harness this great opportunity to ensure it is a safe resource for the business environment? That is the role that employee internet management software can play.

Originally, the demand was for a product that was focused solely on stopping employees from accessing, downloading or sharing any offensive material. Then the focus changed and issues involving productivity were raised. Not unlike a child in the sweet shop, people found they had a range of activities at their fingertips and some overindulged.

There needed to be an agreed, appropriate middle ground which allowed access, within limits.

The internet policy was born, but many soon realised that simply generating a written internet policy was not enough. In 2002, many UK companies who dismissed staff for internet misuse found themselves front-page news.

Employee internet management software became the logical way to enforce these policies. But companies now face an array of challenges which require a different approach and tools.

Internet access is about ensuring the internet does not put staff or the company at risk. Malicious mobile code, such as viruses and worms, can infect your network and cost companies millions of pounds in clean-up costs. Peer-to-peer file sharing, which allows staff to share pirated software or confidential documents, is another legally contentious area.

Internet access and its associated applications remain an essential business tool. But employee internet management software must continue to evolve alongside these developments to ensure that it provides companies and organisations with the right levels of protection and support.

Geoff Haggart is vice-president for EMEA at Websense

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