Controlling Internet Abuse and Time Theft

The internet used to be for business and academic pursuits, and was mainly a tool for information and communication. It has solved many business issues with respect to correspondence, collaboration and access to information, initiating a major shift in how organizations operate. At the same time, however, it has opened the door to a multitude of new productivity and security issues. In the early days, most small and medium-sized companies did not manage their employees’ internet usage, trusting that they were using it appropriately and for work-related activity. With the explosion of internet for home use, 24-7-365 access to social media, online shopping, online dating, news and sports and other entertainment-related websites, the internet has become a temptation that a lot of employees just can’t resist during work hours.

Most employers know that if their staff has access to the internet they are probably using it for personal reasons at some point during the day. They may even think that is acceptable, provided their employees remain within certain guidelines.  Many employers do not want to believe that their employees, who they trust and value, may be abusing this access and spending more than just their lunch-hour surfing the web or may be putting the organization at risk by downloading illegal or inappropriate material.  The unfortunate truth is that internet access (restricted or not) contributes to time theft, data leakage, compliance issues and corporate liability. The question is not if this is happening in your organization, rather it is to what degree is it happening and what are you willing to do about it.

OT Group’s experience has shown that, in any given organization, at least one employee is spending 50% or more of his/her time on websites that were clearly not work –related. 99% of the organizations we have monitored have had one or more users who have downloaded pornography. 99% of all the audits we have performed have found a significant amount of online game playing accounting for an average of 35min / week / employee.

In today’s economy where efficiency and productivity are necessary for success, can you afford to bury your head in the sand and pretend that your business is different?

Discovering the extent of the problem within your organization is only half the battle. Once you know what you are dealing with it is important to carefully plan how to minimize your risks while maintaining morale.  You need to carefully consider your corporate culture and the impact a change to your internet policies will have on all your employees-those who already comply within acceptable usage and those who do not. You also need to decide how and when to confront your key offenders – especially when they are among your top performers.   Many employees simply don’t realize how much time they are spending on personal pursuits and, if you handle it effectively, you can positively impact your productivity without significantly damaging employee morale.

The results of effectively implementing an internet usage policy are staggering. The average annual return on gross payroll costs is 6-8%. Employers who were considering adding bandwidth prior to controlling internet usage found that it was not necessary once their key (offenders) were exposed.Another positive outcome of our audits is increase productivity by identifying top performers with available time – think of the special projects that are on your desk they could help with!

OT Group’s ThinkTWICE service helps employers navigate this challenging but often neglected area. ThinkTWICE combines cutting-edge internet inspection hardware with business acumen to provide a comprehensive strategy to help you identify the extent of the problem, implement corrective actions and periodically monitor for compliance.

ThinkTWICE is undetectable by the user and captures information as it leaves your site with no interference to your current IT infrastructure. As your users interact with the internet, ThinkTWICE gathers user names, website names, URL’s, time spent, amount of interaction, amount of data transferred and other key metrics.  ThinkTWICE shines a light into the dark corners of your office; it inspects and catalogs all outbound content to expose data leakage. Experienced business managers then examine each employee’s web interactions and categorize them as “work related”, “for further discussion”, “not work related” and “inappropriate”. Your final report includes an executive summary (along with itemized reporting) detailing the average waste by your organization’s employees, top users of internet, biggest bandwidth consumers, users of inappropriate content and more. After the data is distilled our business managers help guide you through best ways to deal with problem users. If you need further analysis of specific users, sites or bandwidth consumption we have additional methods to glean any information you require.

To learn more about OT Group’s ThinkTWICE service, please visit http:// www.thinkot.ca/thinktwice or call OT Group free at 1-800-OT-Techs or 613-966-6324. For more information on our other services, please visit http://www.ThinkOT.ca

About OT Group Managed Services

OT Group has spent years developing custom services yielding high-impact results for our customers. With more than 3500 customers in Eastern Ontario, OT Group’s customer-first focus is shifting the IT landscape by delivering high value solutions across infrastructure, security, storage, application, data management and process automation systems. For additional information, please visit http://www.ThinkOT.ca.

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