Online Holiday Shopping Can Cost Your Business More Than Time

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Online Shopping Risks

Cyber Monday is no more – in an uncertain economy, post-Thanksgiving online holiday shopping has increased since coined in 2005 and now lasts for one month with more than 50% of all online spending taking place during working hours1.  What does this mean for your business?  A large decrease in employee productivity, a boost in bandwidth consumption, and one of the most popular times for cybercriminals to attack your secure data.

Lost productivity can mean big bucks for your company, reducing employee output to a mere 60%2.  A survey by CareerBuilder states that more than half of the 4,000 respondents polled intend on shopping online while at work with one third of those planning for more than one hour each day, in addition to the two typical hours daily already reported by respondents (time excludes lunch hour and scheduled breaks).  If you do not have a Web-use policy or Internet Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in place, one is necessary to help report, monitor, and prevent employee Internet abuse in addition to protecting your company from legal liability.

Downloading malware is another risk as employees use the Internet for personal reasons. Spyware and malicious code are big threats to company networks as they can consume bandwidth and compromise security.  Recent studies show that company networks are being infected with spyware and malicious code most often through employees surfing the Web; with the holidays increasing that risk, these threats make it imperative for companies to enforce an AUP to protect their networks. Wavecrest Computing suggests that companies monitor and/or filter employee Web use in order to better protect themselves from security threats. In addition to the inherent risks associated with hacking your online security – loss of company reputation, destruction of company data, and the downtime employees face while systems are restored – the costs to mitigate attacks are extraordinary and rising each year.  This year, U.S. companies are expected to spend more than triple the costs spent in 20063.

To ensure these threats do not happen to your company this holiday season, run through our checklist and remember to check it twice!

  • Install all applicable system and program updates to avoid malware from infiltrating any system frailty that could have easily been patched with an update.
  • Create a Web usage policy and clearly communicate it to your employees.
  • Be cautious prior to clicking on links to different websites particularly those found on social networking sites as they’re often a hotspot for malware.
  • Avoid the use of pirated / illegal software as many contain malware.
  • Never open email attachments from unknown senders and make sure to scan attachments you do decide to download.
  • Make steps to consistently back up your computer in the case that malware wipes your hard drive clean.
  • Monitor servers and security devices 24x7x365 for security issues and require preventative actions be taken on security threats in real time – this is where we come in!

CyBlock can be set up to block Web access by categories and by hour so employees can access shopping sites on their lunch break or after hours. This approach can help sustain morale while minimizing the risks associated with online shopping.  With Cyfin, you can monitor employees’ Web use to ensure that Web-use policies are followed or that unwanted spyware or malware is not downloaded as a result.  Let us guide you to a safer, more reliable, robust security solution with exceptional support at an unbeatable price!

Sources:

1http://blog.comscore.com/2011/11/cyber_monday_work_computers.html

2 http://www.wavecrest.net/editorial/costsavings.html

3http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/technology/1107/gallery.cyber_security_costs/index.html?iid=EL

 

Web Use in the Workplace: Risks and Solutions

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Approximately 20% of personal Internet use at work poses potential threats to the employer. Web access in the workplace can be a valuable business tool, but it also carries significant risks. Check out our presentation that discusses the risks associated with Web use and why monitoring and filtering helps mitigate those risks.

 

Cut Costs with Wavecrest’s Internet Filtering, Monitoring and Reporting Products

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

It has always been important to know that your company’s resources are being used properly and to the best of their capability.  Businesses want to ensure that their employees are being productive and not wasting the organization’s time and resources.

Internet access is one of those resources that can easily be abused, costing an organization time and money. Internet filtering and/or monitoring with one of Wavecrest’s Cyfin or CyBlock products can help preclude or drive down costs in at least four areas: productivity, bandwidth, legal liability and security.

1. Productivity

  • The average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time (America Online and Salary.com survey, 2006).
  • The average employee costs a company $29.71 per hour (including salary, overhead costs, benefits, payroll taxes, etc.) —- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics — March 2010.
  • Lost productivity costs the company $59.42 per day per employee (2 hrs x $29.71).
  • Average employee works 240 days per year.
  • Yearly loss per employee is $14,260.80  (240 x $59.42)
  • Loss per 1000 employees is $14,260,800 per year.
  • Average cost for a Wavecrest Internet filtering or monitoring product with a 1000-employee license is $3,500 per year ($3.50 per user).

Conclusion:  Cost of a Wavecrest license is less than three tenths of one percent of the cost of lost productivity. A well-communicated Web-use policy, coupled with an effective monitoring product, greatly increases productivity in the workplace.

2.  Bandwidth

Reliable studies indicate that as much as 70% of a company’s bandwidth is being consumed by non-productive pursuits. Activities such as online video, audio streaming, downloading movies or MP3’s are especially damaging.  It is quite clear that eliminating or significantly reducing bandwidth abuse can improve network performance and preclude or decelerate the need for organizations to support increased bandwidth use.

3.  Legal Liability

Web-related legal costs typically result from employees visiting pornography sites.  Many studies show this to be a serious problem. In fact, according to research by Nielsen Online in October 2008, one quarter of employees who use the Internet visit porn sites during the workday.  Hits to porn sites are higher during office hours than at any other time of day, according to M.J. McMahon, publisher of AVN Online magazine, which tracks the adult video industry.

This type of activity puts the employer at serious risk of being sued by other workers who are offended or upset by being exposed to pornographic images. Such suits usually take the form of sexual harassment or hostile workplace litigation and can be very costly in terms of damage to reputation as well as legal costs.

4.  Security

Studies show that approximately twenty percent of personal use of the Internet by employees involves activities that pose potential threats to employer network security. Examples include file sharing, the use of malicious code, spyware and more. Like bandwidth abuse, the associated costs are difficult to quantify, but such activities can easily result in network disruptions or slowdowns and/or loss or compromise of proprietary data; these all come with a cost.

Control Excessive Bandwidth Consumption with Wavecrest Filtering and Reporting

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Bandwidth consumption is an increasing concern for all organizations as bandwidth-intensive sites and video streaming become more popular.  The table below offers several examples of the amount of bandwidth that different online activities consume.

Activity or File Size (in kb)
One hour of IM chatting with AOL 10
Send a one-page text email with Gmail 150
View five different articles in Wikipedia 1,200
Upload a 10MP JPEG photo in Flickr 2,400
Downloading a 3 minute song from iTunes 5,600
Watch a 5 minute YouTube video 12,500
Watch episode of “The Simpsons” 25,000
Listen to one hour of music on Pandora 56,300
Compressed version of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” 800,000

As the table shows, many online activities that are probably not work related utilize a lot of bandwidth.  The last thing any organization needs is network latency or slowdowns due to non-work related online activity.

To mitigate this problem, CyBlock and Cyfin provide IT with the information needed to determine 1) if the bandwidth consumption is work related and 2) if any measures need to be taken to reduce the amount of consumption.  Both products provide quantified data (via Web-use reports) that can help IT personnel keep track of network (bandwidth) utilization by users as well as by type of usage (appropriate or not so appropriate).

The Dashboard is the easiest way to get a quick view of bandwidth usage.  You can quickly find the top bandwidth consumers by users, groups, categories or sites.  You can also check when spikes in bandwidth activity occur.

The reports below can also be used to monitor bandwidth usage by users and identify potentially troublesome sites.

  • Site Analysis Bandwidth Report – Focusing on kilobytes by classification, category, and users, this report gives a good overview of whether the majority of bandwidth consumption was acceptable and which categories and users used the most bandwidth.
  • Top Bandwidth Sites Report – This report shows the top bandwidth consuming sites and their categories for the specified time period.
  • Network Information Report – Find out your busiest time of day for Internet use with this report.  It shows visits and kilobytes read by hour.
  • Top Users Report – This report displays the top hits, visits, and kilobytes by user.

These reports can help you anticipate overload possibilities and the need (or lack of need) to purchase additional capacity.  If abuse can be detected and brought under control, the cost of additional capacity may be avoided.

By monitoring and using the reports listed above, you can:

  1. Obtain an accurate, content-categorized picture of network usage patterns
  2. Identify bandwidth abusers for management attention
  3. Prevent bandwidth wastage through intelligent filtering
  4. Improve IT system performance and reduce bandwidth costs.