Tuesday, September 25, 2012

6 Web Security Risks of Not Monitoring Internet Activity


web security tips

Internet access is one of the most important things you can provide to your users. It’s a morale booster, it helps them do their job (for some it is even a vital component of their job,) it enables them to find solutions to problems, research the competition, find new customers, and more. But Internet access comes with a host of threats and if you are not on top of your web security game, allowing your users to have Internet access may cause just as many problems as it can solve. If you are going to provide your users Internet access, consider these top six web security risks of not monitoring Internet activity, and deploy a web security solution to make sure you don’t regret the generosity to your users.

1. Malware
Whether your users download infected files or they just visit compromised websites, malware infections are the single biggest risk to your users from Internet access. Web security applications can scan all files for malware and block access to known infected sites. They can also filter out malicious scripts embedded in web pages, providing strong protection against malware for your users.

2. Phishing
Phishing attacks not only put your users at risk, they can have significant and long lasting impact to your customers, your financials, and your reputation. As much as we raise awareness of phishing attacks, you can read about a new business falling victim almost weekly. Web security software can completely block access to known phishing sites, so even if your users do fall for a phishing email, they cannot submit sensitive information to the attacker’s website.

3. Copyright infringement
Even the best intentions can lead to costly impact to your business, and when users download audio and video files without obtaining the rights to them, the copyright holders can go after your business for compensation. Web security software can block the download of media files, or can filter access based on category to help prevent users from downloading content that might cost you in the long term.

4. Licensing violations
Audio and video are not the only ways a user’s actions can lead to fines and penalties. When users download and install software without obtaining a license for it, the company can be held liable as well. Sites that host cracked software, keygens, and other warez can be blocked completely using web security software, so you can exercise due diligence and avoid a run-in with the Business Software Alliance or other licensing issue.

5. Human Resources incidents
What’s appropriate to access at work and what users may be accustomed to accessing at home are often at opposite ends of the content spectrum, and it’s easy for a user to be offended, or even feel harassed, if exposed to content another user is accessing. This leads to workplace problems including morale issues, teamwork challenges, and can quickly escalate to an incident that involves HR and could lead to someone losing their job. You can avoid all of that by using web security software to block access to content inappropriate for the workplace, and to enforce safe search results in the major search engines.

6. Bandwidth consumption
Media sites such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Internet radio and television streaming sites, and others are great for when you are at home, but if only a handful of your users decide to start listening to their favorite music feed, or surreptitiously watching a movie while they should be working, you can quickly find your network without enough bandwidth to support the business critical applications like email. Web security software can block access to the non-business critical sites, and throttle bandwidth consumption for the sites you do want to allow, to ensure there is enough available for what your network really needs.

7. Wasting time
How often has a “quick” web search or social media check-in caused you to lose track of time? Now multiply that by the number of users on your network, who will do exactly the same thing, and you can quickly see how you can lose hours of productivity each day. Web security software can block access to social media sites, but the best products can instead simply limit the amount of total time or the time frames when users can use the web for recreational purposes. A few minutes here and there is a perfectly good way to ensure morale doesn’t suffer, and if a user wants to spend their lunch break updating their wall…what’s the harm in that, as long as they get back to work at the end of their lunch?

So don’t think web access without addressing web security. Web security applications can monitor access, filter out malware, block access to phishing sites or repositories, prevent the download of files that might contain copyrighted material, restrict the amount of bandwidth burned on streaming media, and even keep users from wasting time on social media sites. Web security applications are a critical component of your Internet security, and help to ensure that Internet access is a benefit, and not a risk to your company.

This guest post was provided by Casper Manes on behalf of GFI Software Ltd.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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