This is a hot topic. There are business owners who believe in giving their employees autonomy and a bit or freedom and there are business owners who have the opposing viewpoint. Truthfully, monitoring employee Internet usage and limiting access are necessary evils of doing business in 2019.

Just a few short years ago the main concern would be “cyberloafing” in the workplace but that has morphed into businesses being at risk based on what their employees download, or emails that they click on. Ransomware has been running rampant again this year. Smart business owners are creating policies and putting controls into place.

While lost productivity to time spent on social media sites is a real concern, the greater concern is having employees who may not be cyber aware and making poor judgement calls that could affect the entire organization. We have seen instances of downloaded malware, administrative access being granted to banking accounts and payroll sites, and wire transfers being initiated. The threats are real and businesses are paying the price in dollars and cents throughout the country.

In addition, employees visiting online gambling, pornographic, or other inappropriate websites can make a small business vulnerable. These websites bring with it a laundry list of issues the least of which is computer viruses. The problem with viruses is two- fold, first and foremost security. Many viruses can work their way through an entire network like wildfire potentially affecting all computers and/or servers. There is an additional cost in employee productivity while the virus is being removed, as well as the expense of in house or outsourced I.T. Personnel removing the computer virus from the affected computers.

Creating both Data Security Policies and Acceptable Internet Usage Policies are needed. We must clearly communicate to our staff our expectations and provide them the training in order to be successful. Putting web filters into place, sending faux emails into the organization to see if staff members would click on links in phishing emails, and testing to see if employees follow proper protocol when a suspected security breach does occur.

There are ways to monitor employee Internet use no matter the size of your organizations I.T. budget. The truth is that unchecked Internet usage can lead to lost productivity and legal exposure. Businesses that do not put any plans into place in the area of security may very well find themselves out of business.