How to Protect Your Business from Web 2.0 Risks

Unlike other network security solutions such as antivirus software, Web content control requires balancing employee needs with that of network security and corporate liability. Web filtering is most effective when combined with training, regular monitoring and a clear acceptable use policy. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Bob Walters explains how to balance the needs of your company's network integrity, its need to cover its back legally, and the recognition that the Internet is part of employees' daily life.

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The use of social networks by staff and the maintenance of corporate information on social Websites have created four main problems: productivity issues, misuse of company resources, and increased security and liability risks. First, the time employees spend on personal Web surfing, especially on addictive Websites such as Facebook and YouTube, can dramatically impact productivity. It has been found that people spend more time on Facebook than any other site.

Second, the misuse of company resources through excessive bandwidth use is crippling some networks, as employees are increasingly storing large amounts of personal downloads. This can be expensive and slow down the entire network, especially for hosted applications such as peer-to-peer software and instant messaging (IM).

Third, liability from inappropriate content on the network (most commonly pornography) can also create a hostile work environment and ultimately result in a lawsuit. These types of hurdles incorporate a wide range of cultural, social, legal and commercial concerns. Finally, malicious Web links are increasingly targeting social Websites for personal data or to infect servers, causing downtime and crashing of the network in some cases.

Organizations are now beginning to ask, "What kind of tools do we need to monitor the Internet for security and control?" and "How do we best manage employee access and time on social Websites?"

Minimizing and mitigating these risks depend on convincing staff to tread carefully online, and putting controls in place to detect attacks early. However, implementing Web content control can seem a daunting task. To the uninitiated, it is an unlikely marriage of the very different disciplines of network administration and human resource management (HRM). With a little forethought, however, it becomes straightforward and very effective. The following are five steps aimed at balancing the needs of network integrity and your organization's need to cover its back legally with the recognition that the Internet is part of employees' everyday life.