Having network Internet control in place is a must for any business to run smoothly. The Internet is an essential tool for most of your employees, so blocking it off completely is not an option. Instead you should implement proper network Internet control to prevent the following threats: bandwidth hogging, cyber-slacking and risks associated with malicious content.

1. Bandwidth Hogging

Recently I was at a client who was having issues with his Internet bandwidth. Every morning access to the Internet would slow down to a crawl but then improve in the afternoon. After a short period of network monitoring I discovered that his part-time secretary would turn on an Internet radio station during her morning shift and saturate the already limited bandwidth that was available. This scenario is very common in businesses and is aggravated when numerous employees decide to use streaming content. Content such as YouTube videos and online radio are bandwidth-hungry and can easily eat up bandwidth. This can have an effect on the entire company because critical systems could be impacted while other employees who need Internet access may not be able to do so effectively.

When implementing network Internet control, be sure to select a solution that is capable of distinguishing between streaming content and other traffic. This will allow you to selectively block traffic based on its bandwidth requirements.

2. Cyber-Slacking

The Internet is a great tool but it is also a temptation and employees will always find an excuse to waste time online instead of doing their job. Social networks, news portals and entertainment web sites, can waste many hours of your employees’ time; furthermore Instant Messaging (IM) can continuously disrupt their workflow throughout the day.

To counter this, you should have strict network Internet control policies – however this may come at a price. Tight Internet controls can hinder productivity for some employees who need unrestricted access for particular jobs. To strike a balance, some Internet control software packages should offer a feature called “Soft Blocking” that will allow you to over-ride block policies for certain trusted users or groups.

To counter the threat of IM clients, make sure you select a solution that is IM client aware. This will enable it to distinguish between normal Internet traffic and IM client conversations, and selectively block this type of communication.

3. Malicious Content

In a perfect world you might be able to trust all your employees and allow them to surf the net without restrictions. In a perfect world employees will be careful not to hog bandwidth, nor waste time nor chat with friends instead of working. In a perfect world, network Internet control would still be a requirement. While you could trust your employees, you can never trust the websites they visit.

The web is a dangerous place for the unwary. Malware is rife and comes in many forms: viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, key loggers and other malicious content. A recent study found that over 60,000 new malware strains are released into the wild every single day, making your employees more vulnerable than they have ever been before when browsing the Internet.

Good network Internet control software will automatically blacklist any website that is found serving malicious content. It does this by tracking new threats in real-time and keeping your blacklist updated so that you do not need to intervene manually.