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

 

Check Out the New Report Guide to CyBlock and Cyfin Reports

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

If you are ever unsure about what a term or metric in a report means, check out our new Report Guide.  It includes key concepts and definitions to help you gain a better understanding of the data displayed and how combining different reports can get you the exact information you need.  The guide also includes a detailed list of every standard report with a description of the information provided in each.  Check out the report guide and bookmark it in case you ever need to refer to it in the future.  You can always find it on our Web site too under Support Documentation for your specific Wavecrest product.

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.

Blocking Unusual Facebook Site Variations

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Facebook has set up their site so that if a user types “www.www.facebook.com”, they will be able to access it through any Web filtering proxy blocking www.facebook.com.  Users can even type in variations, such as “www.www.www.facebook.com” or “hello.www.www.facebook.com” to get access to Facebook.

If users are accessing Facebook by using one of these many variations, it will not show up in reports under the category of Social Networking.  Instead, the URL is categorized as “Other” and is displayed this way in reports.

For now, to prevent users from accessing the site using these variations and to categorize these variations as Social Networking, you need to add the URL as a wildcard to the Social Networking category. To do this, follow the below instructions.

  1. Go to Advanced Settings – Category Setup and click on the Edit URLs link.
  2. Use the Select Category pulldown and select Social Networking.
  3. In the text entry area for Custom URLs, type in the wild card URL *.facebook.com.  If you want to block any time the term facebook shows up in a URL, type in the wild card *.facebook.*

The Wavecrest Development Team is currently looking into alternatives to better handle these types of site variations within the Wavecrest Control List while maintaining speed and scalability in our products.

Concerned About Bandwidth Usage During March Madness?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Bandwidth is a main concern for many businesses during this March Madness season.  Many must deal with employees using company resources to enter online office pools, blog about the top seeds, and watch live streaming games that take place throughout March and early April.

In fact, CBSsports.com is expecting even more viewers online this year. They expect the number of unique viewers for March Madness on Demand, to rise 50% to 7.2 million viewers.  With the massive number of sports Web sites and streaming games available, companies can expect to see a considerable drain on employee productivity and network bandwidth during the NCAA Tournament.

While you may or may not allow your employees to follow the games at work, you will want to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your network.  Wavecrest Computing offers Internet filtering by category or site, white list filtering, real-time web monitoring and detailed Web-use reports on a particular category or site and bandwidth usage.  Some reports you can use to monitor bandwidth or access to sports sites are:

  • Site Analysis Bandwidth Report
  • Network Information Report
  • Category Audit Detail Report
  • Category Audit Summary Report
  • Site Audit Detail Report

Source: http://www.marketingshift.com/2009/3/cbs-expects-7-millon-online.cfm