Monday, July 2, 2012

3 Risks of Failing to Monitor Internet Usage

Could your business cope without Internet access? Would you still be able to do business? It is unlikely that you could survive for long without an Internet connection. Yet, few businesses understand the risks of failing to monitor Internet usage.

Employees downloading files, social engineering attacks, bandwidth consumption and negatively impacted productivity can all result from the misuse of employee Internet access privileges. Many of these risks can be mitigated by using software to monitor Internet usage over your network, and to apply proactive security measures to stay secure.

Let’s take a look at the three most common pitfalls and how they can be avoided by Internet monitoring software.

Decreased Productivity
Not all employees understand the concept of “Internet privileges”, and some may interpret it more loosely as “carte blanche to surf the web all day.” In addition, some employees like to use high-speed corporate networks to download large files, such as movies. Not only does this activity put the company at legal risk, but large downloads can also devour bandwidth and cause a loss of productivity across your network.

Good software can allow you to monitor Internet usage, providing the granular management of Internet access controls for your employees. This allows you to control their browsing habits and prevent abuse to ensure your system runs at peak performance. In addition, Internet monitoring software can also allow you to set bandwidth thresholds and block streaming media to ensure you retain control of Internet traffic passing through your network.

Malicious Files and Viruses
Unauthorized downloads and malicious websites can result in infected PCs. Not only does that put your confidential data at risk, but it can also result in system downtime to clean out the infection and restore your network to a secure state.

Employees may also attempt to download and install patches for work-related software, which could destabilize your network if those patches are not tested and approved. Compatibility issues can arise with your existing setup, resulting in administrator resources being used to fix a problem that shouldn’t have arisen in the first place.
By using software to effectively monitor Internet usage you can control which files can be downloaded by users. Software can also be used to scan files that are allowed onto the system with multiple antivirus engines, thus ensuring they are safe. In addition, sites that are off limits can be blocked, keeping your network safe from a variety of attack vectors.

Phishing Attacks
Websites that are masquerading as legitimate sources can lure employees into a false sense of security. They may be tricked into revealing confidential information, or even inadvertently give away access codes that could leave your system open to attack.
By filtering websites and monitoring HTTPS traffic to prevent malware masquerading as safe software, you can keep your network better protected against such risks. In addition some software that can monitor Internet usage will also block access to known phishing websites based on updateable databases of known attack sites.

By failing to monitor Internet usage you can leave your company exposed to considerable risks. Few businesses can afford a loss of productivity, or having their bandwidth resources gobbled up by employees making personal use of the network. Worse still, infection from malware or viruses as a result of failing to control downloads can leave your system completely down.

By deploying software to monitor Internet usage you can keep a careful eye on your network and control its usage to ensure it always runs at peak performance, while also providing an extra layer of protection against attack. The question now is, is it worth the risk to remain without it?

This guest post was provided by Peter Wisner on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Learn more about why you need to monitor Internet usage.