While the internet has become one of the most productive business tools for communicating with clients, research and marketing, it has also become one of the most destructive for businesses in terms of lost employee productivity, virus repair expenses, and direct threats to corporate security.  A simple low cost web content filtering solution can help recapture lost employee productivity, lower service repair times, and significantly improve corporate security.

Before you implement a web content filtering solution decide what you’re trying to accomplish.   At a minimum it should be to prevent viruses and spyware from entering your network.  Once you can clearly articulate your goals and objectives it’s a good idea to translate these objectives into a written Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for your employees.  Acceptable use policies should be short and clear with technical language being kept to a minimum.

An effective content control application or service can help your business solve these common problems:

Malware infections of your network – The web has surpassed email as the main factor for desktop and server virus and spyware infections. Google recently scrutinized 4.5 million web pages and found that one in 10 contained malicious code that could infect a user’s PC. Content control is one of several layers (e.g. antispyware, anti-virus) that are needed to secure today’s small business networks.

Misuse of employee time – excessive time spent on personal web surfing, especially on addictive sites such as Facebook and YouTube, can lower an employee’s performance. Salary.com reported in 2006 that the average worker admits to spending nearly an hour a day outside of lunch and breaks surfing the internet for personal reasons. How many businesses can really afford a 12.5% decrease in employee productivity?

Misuse of company resources – excessive bandwidth use, and the potential use of corporate server space to store personal downloads, can be expensive and slow down the entire network. Peer-to-peer software used for gaming and music sharing is notorious for crippling networks because they consume a disproportionate amount of network bandwidth resources and are notorious for virus and spyware infections.

Corporate Liability – personal downloading can also introduce inappropriate content, like pornography, on the network that can lead to a hostile work environment, lawsuits and business reputational losses.

Web filtering has become an essential layer of network security. But unlike other network security solutions such as anti-virus software, content control requires balancing employee needs against that of corporate security.
Most filtering solutions allow for multiple levels of access, where some users are highly filtered and others are set with less filter restrictions based upon an employee’s need to access website content. Filtering is also most effective when combined with training, and a clear Acceptable Use Policy.  Implementing web content controls can be straightforward and does not have to take much time.  By putting these measures in place, companies greatly decrease the odds of their networks being compromised.  The end result of an effective web content filtering solution is lower corporate liability and improved employee productivity.

Here are some common sense examples of what should be restricted in your acceptable use policies:

•  Although a certain amount of personal internet use may be acceptable, surfing should be kept to a minimum so as to not impact one’s ability to do his or her job;

•  Accessing pornographic, violent, abusive or hate sites is unacceptable;

•  Using the internet to harass or bully other staff members is unacceptable;

•  Sending or posting confidential material, trade secrets, or proprietary information outside of the organization is prohibited;

•  Staff should not expose the company to litigation for copyright infringement, or by engaging in activities such as pirating music, videos, or software.

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