The Internet at work: a security threat or learning initiative

Many companies allow employees access to the internet and this is a great thing for those who want to learn, research and send information. E-mail is now a necessity but is general 'net access? The Internet opens a gateway to viruses due to access to web-based mail and can be seriously abused.

Only last month a batch of illegal software was found on the BT Bletchley server farm's hard disks – and the subsequent inquiry showed that the programs were being burned to CDs and sold off at local car-boot sales. Today Ford have announced that their internal network was being used by people to download porn and they have announced a two week amnesty during which their employees have to remove all porn from their computers. The former of these situations resulted in people loosing their jobs and the latter could easily – now we have to ask whether the use of the internet at work is really a good idea.

A great number of business networks use their proxies or net scanners to block sites containing porn or potential security risks (such as web mail), but they can never be 100% secure and the stories of late have demonstrated the risks and potential damage to a company's reputation. You only have to look back at the Nimda disaster to see the potential infiltration into corporate networks.

But there are advantages to having the internet at work such as easy access to research, learning and skill development while working. Now companies must be assessing whether the advantages outweigh the risks. Put yourself in a company's shoes: would you allow your employees to roam the 'net freely?

News source: ZDNet - Ford's Porn Amnesty

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