Requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Because managing employee Web use deals with humans and their actions, it is a continuous process for all sizes and types of businesses, where the goal is to ensure employees use Web access safely for productive, work-related purposes. To attain a high level of success, I believe that this process requires a Web-use management program be put in place that involves many key players in the organization, communication of the company’s Web-use policy, implementation of a reliable tool to monitor and control Web use, and other important activities. In this article, I will discuss the requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program and the activities involved that will bring about safe and productive Internet use by the workforce.

The key ingredient in an effective program is collaboration and communication among the various groups in the company, i.e., senior management, Legal department, IT personnel, HR personnel, department managers and supervisors, and employees. Communication would include IT keeping company stakeholders informed about current hacker threats, as well as HR apprising senior management of pertinent employee Web-use behavior. Collaboration would occur among HR, IT, and department managers in training the workforce. Collaboration would also take place between IT and department heads to select the appropriate Web monitoring and filtering tool.

If you don’t have one already, another necessity of a Web-use management program is to develop a sound Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) consistent with corporate culture. The AUP should describe acceptable and unacceptable Web-use behavior, i.e., company rules for what constitutes desirable, acceptable, unacceptable, and abusive use of the Internet and other network resources. The policy should also clearly state how compliance will be monitored and what the consequences will be to employees abusing the use of network resources. Does your company have an AUP in place that spells out the rules to your employees?

To ensure adherence to the Web-use policy, it should be clearly communicated to the entire workforce, including management, informing them of what is and what is not acceptable in easily understood language. You may also want to have employees acknowledge that they read and understood the policy through a signed acknowledgement. HR and management personnel should hold meetings with workgroups to answer questions and provide any additional information. This fosters open communication in the workplace and allows employees to be more engaged in proper Internet usage.

In addition to communicating the policy to all concerned, another requirement of an effective Web-use management program is training employees on how to use Web access productively and safely. Whether training is conducted or coordinated by HR or in collaboration with managers and other department personnel, training sessions should cover Internet usage and related subjects. Specifically, employees need to be made aware of what sites they are visiting and what they are clicking on the Web. The purpose of training should be to encourage proper, productive, and safe use of network resources while reinforcing the information in the AUP.

An important requirement of a Web-use management program is to use a reliable software tool that is designed specifically to monitor compliance with Web-use policies and proactively control Web access. The tool should also include a smart reporting engine that distinguishes between user clicks (visits) and unsolicited traffic (hits) and easily presents accurate and up-to-date Web-use data, identifying desirable Web usage as well as unacceptable use and trends. Does your tool include a Smart Engine that analyzes Web traffic to better interpret human behavior? Does it generate easy-to-read, manager-ready reports? Does it give details on employee Web use with drill-down reporting capability? These are key features of a Web monitoring and filtering tool that will benefit IT, HR, and department managers.

Another activity that is necessary is following up with corrective actions when inappropriate Web access is detected. With a policy in place, personnel oriented, the workforce trained, and your Web monitoring and filtering solution actively monitoring and controlling Web use, there are still more activities to do. The tool will inevitably reveal patterns of inappropriate use or disclose signs of outright abuse. These incidents will require attention by HR and management personnel. After identifying the problems, management can take appropriate follow-up actions, such as counseling employees, training or retraining workers, changing work processes, and revising or clarifying the AUP. Managers may also need to institute follow-up audits on individual users and, in worst case, take disciplinary action including termination.

The final element of an effective employee Web-use management program that I will cover involves the establishment of a continuous improvement process by the collaboration team, i.e., HR, IT, department managers, etc. In this process, there would be frequent reviews of employee Web use, new Web services introduced into the network, and new security threats, modifications of work processes, and appropriate revisions of the AUP. All company stakeholders would be involved. What other activities have been effective in your company in managing employee Web use?

Unauthorized Web use can degrade workforce productivity, impact network performance, threaten network security, and create legal liabilities. Any of these outcomes can seriously impact your bottom line. An effective employee Web-use management program is essential to prevent this from happening. If the responsibilities of an effective program are carried out well, misuse and abuse of network resources will be minimized without damaging workforce engagement and morale. Getting accurate, actionable information to all collaborators is a must, and the tool that you are using should be able to provide this information. Next time I will discuss how to get this information with reliable metrics generated by a reporting tool.

Read more of my articles on Web-use management on LinkedIn and the Wavecrest blog: WaveNews.

World Cup 2018 starts next week… is your business ready?

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

The US may have disappointed many by being knocked out of the World Cup 2018, but don’t think fans will want to miss watching the games anyway. No matter where you are geographically, the World Cup is an event that carries fans even when their team doesn’t make it all the way! Is your business prepared for your employees’ inevitable streaming and Web surfing?

Even four years ago, many may have watched the World Cup on cable or satellite TV versus streaming. In 2018 though, many, known as cord-cutters, have even chosen to remove cable services at home and just stream on their televisions–making streaming a new way of life! Since the games are based in Russia this year, the time difference will likely cause games to be during working hours not only in the US, but even in Europe. Which means, devoted fans, I mean employees, may end up streaming at work potentially slowing down or clogging your bandwidth.

There is also the neverending threat of phishing e-mails and malicious ads. They tend to increase exponentially around events like this. Now is the time to make sure you have tools in place to block intentional or accidental access to malicious URL links, and have some refresher training for your employees on what to look for, avoid, and report.

The World Cup doesn’t happen often. It might be time to just let them catch some highlights on company time. But that doesn’t mean you have to risk productivity, bandwidth speed, or network and data security. CyBlock allows you to choose how much or how little risk, and to even change your mind in the middle. Let them enjoy without sacrificing your organizational priorities.

CyBlock® Employee Web Filtering and Monitoring Solutions provide advanced Web filtering, threat protection, comprehensive employee reporting, Smart Engine analytics, easy-to-use admin and manager portals, and more. Customers can easily configure CyBlock to monitor and manage compliance with their usage policies. CyBlock is available in various deployment options: CyBlock Software, CyBlock Appliance, CyBlock Mini Appliance, CyBlock Cloud, and CyBlock Hybrid as well as a Virtual Appliance version.

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.