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Net geeks beware: Cos check what you surf

There’s one area where cost is not being cut and that puts employers on alert: how to stop employees from non-business surfing on the internet.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 18, 2008, 01.17 AM IST
Danger in portals
Heard of clickjacking?
Danger in portals Heard of clickjacking?
PUNE: There���s one area where cost is not being cut and that puts employers on alert: how to stop employees from non-business surfing on the internet.

Research has shown that employees are spending, on average, over nine hours a week, or more than a working day, on doing personal things on the Internet. Employers are now seriously considering new investments in software that will prevent such waste, according to a report by a software security products company.

Employees in the IT/ITeS industry work a five-day week but spend around 9.3 hours each week in non-business Internet surfing. So, while they get paid for a five-day week, they work less than a four-day week, one workday being spent in leisure. With such a loss of productivity, bandwidth and security, companies are now looking to invest in Internet usage monitoring tools to cut down on unwanted expenses.

Non-business Net surfing is also rampant in banking and financial services, manufacturing, education, pharma etc, according to a risk assessment survey conducted by Websense, a web and data security solutions firm. Employees from these sectors spend around 5.3 hours each a week on such surfing, exposing the employer to security breaches.

Thirty companies in India had commissioned the survey and Websense monitored Net usage at each company for a week by installing its tracking software on its computers. The survey was conducted during July-September this year and Websense tracked the Internet activities of 40,000 employees, over half of them from IT/ITeS companies.

The findings revealed that these employees indulged in risky Internet activities and wasted over 2 lakh work-hours and 805 gigabytes (GB) of the company���s bandwidth in personal use over seven days.

Almost half of the monitored employees browsed the Internet using proxy websites, bypassing the company���s firewall. They visited malicious websites, which contained viruses, trojan horses, worms, script attacks and phishing/pharming webpages.

They also hooked on to shopping and job portals, downloaded software, songs, videos, adult material, illegal content and also indulged in pornography. Instances of hacking, gambling and peer-to-peer file sharing were also detected. The company recorded over 76 lakh visits to malicious websites along with 25 lakh other visits resulting in illegal activity.

Websense���s marketing manager, South East Asia and India, Manish Bansal, said that the companies they surveyed had more than 1000 Internet users. More than half of the employees were from large companies, which had more than 2,500 Internet users.

���Such a risky activity could make the company���s network vulnerable to attacks and bandwidth is then unavailable for its critical business applications. Unwanted Internet usage adversely impacts the company���s service. The company also incurs additional expenses for bandwidth, network storage, cache and proxy hardware and desktop storage,��� he said.

Following Websense presenting its report, many of the companies are planning to monitor the Internet activity of their employees and evaluating monitoring software products.
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