Three British judges were sacked and a fourth resigned over allegations of accessing pornographic material. Even though the kind of pornography accessed wasn’t illegal, having four people who are representing one of the highest institutions of a country accessing such material on court computers raised a few eyebrows. An inquiry held by the JCIO (Judicial Conduct Investigations Office) found that the judges had exhibited “wholly unacceptable behavior” according to Reuters. This seems to be just one of the many stories surfacing about watching porn at work.
In January 2015 a news story broke about a Pentagon employee working within the Pentagon’s Defense Finance Accounting Service trying to access pornographic material more than 12,000 times in a year. Yes, just in case you didn’t get that… 12,000 times. That’s 32 times a day. Once every 15 minutes (in an eight-hour shift).
In September 2014, the Washington Post revealed that a senior level employee within the Environment Protection Agency was also caught spending “as much as six hours of his day looking at porn.” A 2013 official report by Westminster showed how on an average day the IT network within the UK Parliament would receive over 800 attempts to access pornography websites.
Watching porn at work has become such a problem in the US that on March 25, Congress passed a Bill ‘Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act,’ prohibiting federal employees from accessing explicit material on government devices.
Amid such news, it is normal to question what kind of webpages your employees are accessing while they are on their work computer, during work hours. Even worse are the risks that porn sites present to company’s networks.
This is not Big Brother. It’s Good Practice to do so.
Apart from the obvious issue of time wasting, watching porn at work may also open up the employee’s work network to malware infections. A 2013 report detailed how top US porn sites are serving their viewers with malware infections through malvertising. One particular porn site had a 53% chance of malware contact probability. The malware problem doesn’t stem from the porn site operators themselves but through infected banners provided by third party adverts, hence why the term malvertising is used. To be fair it is not the porn factor which is of danger, but rather the fact that these sites have very heavy traffic which make them ideal for attackers who want to serve their malicious ad to as many users as possible.
Pornography might be the least acceptable way to waste time at work but it certainly isn’t the only one. Social media use, personal email access, streaming sites and news websites can all be the culprit of productivity loss. Access to such websites can also cause problems with bandwidth usage which in turn can have detrimental effects on productive network use.
So, what’s the next step? Contrary to what the scaremongers say, monitoring of internet traffic and web usage at work is not a breach of privacy. Office systems are for office use and not, repeat not, for wasting time or watching porn (at any time of the working day).
Web monitoring and filtering is the only way – bar blocking access to the Internet – to prevent the bad stuff impacting your network. It’s ideal to put to an end problematic practices but allowing certain liberties (read: check your social profile during their lunch break).
The software can also provide insights into how access was used over the previous 12 months, for example, providing context to the raw data you have collected. Far from being a nuisance web monitoring could be a blessing … for everyone.
At GFI we know exactly what’s going through the IT admin’s mind when he opens the Internet gates and employees rush in. That’s why GFI WebMonitor is a great tool to discover, manage and secure networks while you remain in everyone’s good books.
Learn more about what GFI WebMonitor can do for your business by clicking here to try out a 30-day free trial.