Managing employee Web use is a collaborative effort involving managers, HR, IT, and employees.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

 

There is no doubt that the Internet is an integral tool in today’s corporate world. It is central to business processes with more and more employees utilizing this important corporate resource daily. Most likely, your workplace has seen a significant increase in Internet use or Web use, contributing to the agility, efficiency, innovativeness, and success of the business. However, many issues can arise with employee Web use if it is not properly managed. I strongly believe that employee Web use involves human behavior in the workplace, and the proper management of it is a collaborative effort involving managers, HR, IT, and employees. In this article, I will discuss the issues affecting companies today concerning employee Web use, and with each article thereafter, we will delve a little deeper into the solutions.

The first issue is that with employees spending a large portion of the workday on the Internet, for both personal and work-related purposes, businesses have reason to be concerned about the security of their corporate network. Employees can be subject to phishing scams, end up on malicious Web sites, and unknowingly download infected files, jeopardizing the security of their system and the company’s network. Are your employees security aware? Do they know how to recognize online threats and how to report them?

Another issue is that with the tremendous increase in surfing the Web at work–between one and three hours a day on personal business–employees can waste considerable work time. Wasted time represents a reduction in workforce productivity and efficiency and consequently, unnecessary cost. Additionally, employees can waste time on legitimate but unproductive Web site visits. This waste can stem from flawed business strategy, poorly designed processes, or misguided supervisory direction. Do your managers have the accurate information they need on their employees’ Web activity?

Employers also have concerns about where their employees are going on the Internet. Unfortunately, one of the most serious forms of Web-access abuse involves the downloading and displaying of pornography. This is a huge issue from the standpoint of workplace liability, where the legal liability primarily takes the form of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by an employee who has inadvertently or deliberately been exposed to pornographic images downloaded by another employee.

If you are allowing your employees to access the Internet, you must have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that spells out what type of Web activity is acceptable, what type is not acceptable, and the consequences of engaging in the latter. The AUP should reflect the corporate culture. If you don’t have one, who should create this policy and ensure that employees adhere to it? If you do have a policy in place, do your employees know the policy and how to use Internet access properly?

For all of these people-oriented Web-use issues, clearly HR personnel are the professionals best equipped to take the lead in developing and implementing employee Web-use management efforts, collaborating as required with IT, and along with managers, training employees on the use of network resources. IT can deploy firewalls and network security equipment, but is not equipped or trained to deal with the larger issue of keeping your trusted workforce from compromising the security measures in place.

Managing your employees’ use of the Web is all about employee behavior, productivity, and morale, and the resolution of the above issues involves matters of policy, training, and compliance. In the next articles, we will explore HR’s role in the collaboration effort, IT’s role, the requirements of an effective Web-use management program, and other topics related to keeping your employees and network safe.

Please let me know your thoughts on and reactions to this article and my questions by adding a comment. Who is leading the people-oriented Web-use management efforts in your business? Is it a collaborative effort with multiple departments or just an IT-focused task?

Madness of March 2018…snow, cold, and of course, basketball!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

March Madness has begun and it is an exciting year already for basketball lovers. Knowing some of the games have been “nail-biters” this year, employees are definitely checking out highlights or even streaming a whole game on your network. WalletHub says, “unproductive workers during March Madness amounted to an estimated $6.3 billion in corporate losses.”

This year, have the choice to allow your employees some freedom to watch and enjoy! CyBlock Filtering and Monitoring Suite will help monitor and protect your business, blocking sites known for malware, proactively controlling bandwidth consumption, and keeping productivity flowing, while allowing responsible viewing.

With Wavecrest’s Bandwidth Management in CyBlock, there are numerous ways to be able to control access when you need to. With Real-Time Data Usage Monitoring, you will be able to easily view current data usage for the entire enterprise, detect unexpected spikes that could indicate excessive data use, or just observe the last 5, 10, or 15 minutes of real-time updates.

You can also make sure the critical business operations remain functioning efficiently, even during the games, by using the Bandwidth Throttling features. Be more restrictive as the noncritical usage gets higher by setting one of the automatically triggered, higher-usage policy thresholds to throttle more or even block. E-mail alerts will keep you informed wherever you are. Once a policy is activated, policy-specific traffic is throttled or blocked, allowing business-critical applications (VoIP, CRM, etc.) to continue operating as needed.  

Betting on the games has become increasingly popular. “According to the Gaming Association, 10 percent of adults — or roughly 24 million — reported spending nearly $3 billion in the past year on basketball pools alone,” notes cbssports.com. A more impactful example might be from WalletHub, “2x more is wagered on March Madness than the Super Bowl.” Be aware of what your employees are doing online, gambling sites are not just a legal issue but also tend to carry many security risks.

Security risks are numerous this time of year. March Madness search results have had a history of being known for malware in past years, and this year will likely be no different. As your employees search for brackets or results, CyBlock blocks traffic to the constantly growing number of sites that generate and/or promote malware. Keep out viruses, Trojan horses, phishing attacks, and more.

March Madness has become a way of life. Decide how your company will handle the traffic and proactively manage it by letting CyBlock help protect and secure your business and your employees. Find out more about all the Web management product lines at Wavecrest Computing.

About Wavecrest

Wavecrest has over 20 years of proven history of providing reliable, accurate Web-use management and Advanced Log File Analyzer products across various industries. Managed Service Providers, IT specialists, HR professionals, Forensics Investigators, and business managers trust Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products to manage the human factor in business Internet usage — managing cloud services, reducing liability risks, improving productivity, saving bandwidth, and controlling costs. Trusted by large government and commercial organizations such as US-CERT Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, USPS Office of Inspector General, National Grid, Johns Hopkins, and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies. We are a proud long-term GSA contract holder. For more information on the company, products, and partners, visit Wavecrest.

Employee Internet activity–get the right information to the right people in the right format.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

We always think of a business’ audience as outside of the business, as in a sales or technical support relationship with a prospect or customer. But we all have an audience within the business that needs to be serviced, provided assistance, and kept happy. From an IT standpoint, these internal customers can be HR, operations, financial, legal, C-Suite, and more . . . literally everyone within the company. This is why it is important that IT be provided and supported with comprehensive, easy-to-manage tools that proactively help supply internal customers with the relevant, detailed, easy-to-consume information they need. Their focus should be on how to efficiently get the right information to the right people in the right format–especially when it is critical information like Internet usage.

Internet usage is a leading concern for companies due to risks from employee misuse, unsanctioned cloud applications, phishing e-mails, and more. Pepper Hamilton LLP, Attorneys at Law note, “Companies often are surprised to learn that their biggest security threats come from their own employees. These risks range from the use of weak passwords to clicking on corrupt internet links to theft of sensitive data.” IT needs to not only maintain the system to keep the business’ digital environment running and secure but they also need to supply critical employee Web-use information to others within their organization. These internal customers are not prepared to dig through and interpret large amounts of technical data. They require the information be easily supplied to them for when, where, and how they need to use it. So what does “the right information to the right people in the right format” really mean?

What is the right information?

When it comes to Web-use risks, the human factor, that is, the employee, must be the focus. Without knowing the human behavior in the organization it is impossible to define what is normal and flag anomalies that may indicate unintentional mistakes or malicious acts, identify workforce productivity changes, or determine whether an employee is in compliance with corporate policy, and more. If there is reporting on Web traffic in the organization, it may still be inadequate in showing the relevant human behavior in the workplace. It is important to reduce the “noise” that happens in data when supplying information to the internal customers. The right information means clear, pertinent, easy-to-consume information for, more than likely, a nontechnical audience.

Who are the right people?

It would likely be easier to just say everyone. Most employees use some form of the Internet for work functions. If they don’t, they still likely have access to the Internet through company Wi-Fi or during their break. Even then, the business is responsible for the Web use occurring on their network at any time. Knowing this, it is understandable that many people in your organization want easy access to employees’ Web activity information. Managers may want to address productivity issues, HR personnel may want to investigate a Web-use liability issue, and IT staff themselves will want to watch network performance and security. Getting the relevant information to a specific audience in the company is important and increases overall efficiency and productivity. The right people means that the information supplied to that user is specific to their responsibility. Extraneous information not only makes the recipient’s process of deciphering the data more difficult and time-consuming, but it is also a data security issue by sharing unrelated company data with others, even within the company.

Which is the right format?

When you view something and it just has so much information or is just difficult to read, do you actually retain or even understand the information? With mission-critical operations looming, IT no longer has time to spend on walking a recipient through report information. Requested Web-use information should be in an easy-to-read and actionable format. Having reporting dashboards can provide important benefits especially when they can be customized to offer different types of analyses for different users and therefore serve different purposes. Customizable charts and interactive, drill-down reporting features with specifically relevant information increases understanding and ends up supporting clear business decision-making. So, the right format is about allowing for flexibility for each recipient to view information in a number of different formats.

So then . . . what is needed to get the right information to the right people in the right format and how can Wavecrest help?

Smart Engine analytics! Without the Smart Engine and its analytics, the reporting components could not provide the adequate information that your company needs to manage employee Web use. The Smart Engine makes technical data usable and manager-ready. Smart Engine analytics provide pertinent, detailed analysis, permitting the review or investigation of trends, policy violation, Internet misuse, security issues, and ultimately, human behavior occurring in the workplace.

With its precise, industry-leading algorithms, the Wavecrest Smart Engine is used by charts and reports to present accurate and up-to-date Web-use data. It performs functions such as determining visits and time online from Web traffic, and categorizing URLs into logical groups based on content. The Smart Engine is the key to providing understandable, easy-to-consume, manager-ready information–more precisely, the right information for right people in the right format.

Time is precious, especially in business. Getting the right information to the right people in the right format should be easy–especially when it is critical information like Internet usage. Let us help.

About Wavecrest

Wavecrest has over 20 years of proven history of providing reliable, accurate Web-use management and Advanced Log File Analyzer products across various industries. Managed Service Providers, IT specialists, HR professionals, Forensics Investigators, and business managers trust Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products to manage the human factor in business Internet usage — managing cloud services, reducing liability risks, improving productivity, saving bandwidth, and controlling costs. Trusted by large government and commercial organizations such as US-CERT Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, USPS Office of Inspector General, National Grid, Johns Hopkins, and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies. We are a proud long-term GSA contract holder. For more information on the company, products, and partners, visit Wavecrest.