The Truth about Personal Internet Use in the Workplace and 5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Company

The Truth about Personal Internet Use in the Workplace and 5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Company


Internet access is one of the most valuable tools that we have in the workplace. It allows companies and employees to remain connected, to research quickly, to find and transmit information seamlessly, and to stay on the cutting edge of our industries.

But you need only to walk past a row of cubicles on a given day to see that Internet use is easy to abuse. It’s not uncommon to find employees checking personal email, looking at sports websites, downloading photos, watching live-streaming videos, or even cruising dating sites.

While some of this might seem harmless, it’s important to be aware of the potential implications of personal internet use in the workplace. It doesn’t take much for one employee’s breach to affect your entire company. Here are a few risks associated with personal internet use that you might not be aware of:
Bandwidth Costs: Heavy graphics, video clips, and audio files are particularly notorious for clogging digital pipelines. If your staff is emailing photos of their family vacation to their friends, paying bills online, or downloading music, they are using up a huge amount of expensive bandwidth and slowing down your organization as a result.

Legal Liability: 70% of all Internet porn traffic occurs during the 9-to-5 workday (SexTracker) and 27% of Fortune 500 companies have been accused of sexual harassment stemming from inappropriate e-mail and Internet usage. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that companies can be held accountable for their employees forwarding offensive messages and viewing pornography.

A Damaged Reputation: A lawyer at a London firm forwarded an explicit email he received from a female acquaintance to several co-workers as a joke. Unfortunately, those people sent it on to a few of their friends and within a short period of time, thousands of people from around the world, including the press, received it. Not only was the reputation of the woman involved irreparably damaged, but the company itself ended up in a huge controversy that hurt their image and credibility.

Loss of Productivity: E-mail and the Internet offer a temptation that is hard to resist; that’s why 73% of employees who use the Internet are fully aware that they are consuming valuable bandwidth and hampering critical business activities with inappropriate Internet usage – but do it anyway.

Viruses and Spyware: Employees can accidentally (or intentionally!) download harmful viruses and spyware through music files, screen savers, and other online files.

So what can you do to protect your organization?

The line between protecting your company and micromanaging your employees can seem razor thin when it comes to personal internet use. Internet access, after all, is necessary for research, staying informed on latest trends, and good communication. You can hardly revoke access entirely, nor do you want to.

So what are some manageable methods for protecting yourselves and your employees? Here are five simple things that you can do to mitigate internet abuses in your office:

1. Communicate your expectations to your employees: Decide ahead of time what you’re comfortable with as far as personal internet use, and communicate those boundaries clearly to your employees. Write up an Internet Use Policy that spells out your expectations and explains, in detail, how you’ll handle violations.

If you don’t already have a policy in place, consider involving your employees in the process. By alerting them to the risks posed by personal internet use and empowering them to solve the problem, you’ll create an atmosphere of trust and collaboration rather than cultivating resentment and fear.

2. Allow personal internet use occasionally within a set of reasonable boundaries: Employees tend to do best in atmospheres where they feel trusted rather than micromanaged. So, if possible, benchmark certain times of the day for personal internet use. Give employees freedom to check their email or networking sites during lunch or breaks. Remind them which sites are never okay to access at work and trust them to make smart decisions.

3. Deal with violators quickly and personally: Once you’ve established a good, solid Internet Use Policy and communicated it to your employees, you have to make sure to follow through on the consequences. If you notice that an employee is using the internet inappropriately, make sure to speak with him or her personally and as quickly as possible. Reiterate your expectations and do what you can to help the violator adopt healthy practices.

4. Set productivity goals and reward those who meet them: Legalities aside, one of the top reasons to limit personal internet time is its adverse effect on productivity. Productivity is also a great barometer of whether or not your employees are abusing their privileges. Set reasonable but challenging productivity goals and give your employees a reason to stay busy. They’re much more likely to waste time online if they’re bored and unchallenged in their work.

When your employees make great strides on a project or your bottom line is up, make sure to reward their hard work. Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of the team, so make sure you recognize how significant each person is to the success of the company.

5. Invest in internet content filtering software: For some companies, the best option is to install internet content filtering software. This will block sites that are unquestionably harmful to your business. But it also generates reports and statistics about where your employees are spending their time. If you’re consistently seeing internet abuse in the workplace, having this information at hand will help you make solid decisions about which sites need to be banned and which are being used responsibly.

If you choose to go this route, make sure you inform your employees in advance so that they can take responsibility for their own actions. Be clear that this is not a way for you to “spy” on your employees but a way to protect everyone. Invite them to come to you with any questions they may have, as open communication is an essential component of a good work environment.

Don’t let your company become a victim of inappropriate personal internet use. Set good, sustainable boundaries and practice clear communication.

Cultivate an attitude of respect toward the Internet and it will be your most valuable tool; fail to set those boundaries, and it could become your biggest liability.HP Touchpad - Minneapolis Minnesota

Tremendous Growth in Internet Usage – How Will That Affect Your Business?

I read an article that Intel published that had some shocking facts:
1. The number of network devices equals the global population.
2. 20 people every minute get their identity stolen.
3. 135 botnet infections every minute (network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge)
4. 135 new mobile users added every minute.
5. 47,000 mobile applications downloaded every minute.

internet security minnesota

Prediction – The number of internet devices will DOUBLE in the next two years.

Do you have:
1. a way to control your mobile users?
2. a way to protect your mobile devices?
3. a good method of preventing and remediating malicious software?
4. a acceptable use policy for your users?

If not, that is something I may be able to help you with.


Do you know what percentage of all data breach incidents affect the education market?

Kaspersky answers questions on data breaches in educational organizatonsDid you know that more than 25% of all data breach incidents affect the education market?

From financially motivated hackers to sophisticated nation-backed attackers looking for government research, threats are everywhere.

Are you prepared?

Join Kaspersky for a FREE, exclusive webinar Wednesday May 23 at 1:00 PM (CST).

You’ll learn everything you need to make sure your networks are protected including:
• Types of data sought by hackers
• Common threats and attacks for the education industry
• Simple ways you can protect yourself without breaking the budget
We think that this webinar will be useful to you as you plan next steps for your organization and budget for next year.

Hope you find it helpful.



Is email security important for Law Firms in Minneapolis, Minnesota?

email security and email encryption - law firms in Minneapolis Minnesota

If you work at a law firm, you know that you work with a lot of sensitive information for your clients. From time to time, I am sure, you have to email your clients. What do you do if you have sensitive information? Do you have a way of sending a email securely? Email security is not an option, it is necessary!

If you would like to discover how a law firm can send emails securely you should attend a webinar that we are having with ZixMail. They will be held:

Tuesday May 22nd from 9:30 to 10:30 am CST


Thursday May 31st from 9:30 am to 10:30 am CST

Please contact me and I will give you more details on the webinar.

Here is more information on ZixMail Encrypted Email:


ABA Ethics Opinions on Electronic Communication

The Case for Email Encryption Required by the Law

Beware Storage Cost Will Be Going UP

Flood effects Hard Drive prices

I thought that this news may affect you if you are looking at updating your network or adding space for you document management system. There has been major flooding in Thailand, which is having a direct effect on world hard drive production. Western Digital’s primary drive production facility is under 12 feet of water. Seagate is currently running at 100% but they will be slowing down because the major hard drive motor manufacturer is under water as well. We will soon start to see drive shortages with prices steadily increasing. With shortages anticipated to last well into March pricing could possibly double.

Here are a few stories:

Drive shortages drive prices

Reters report on thailand floods

Storage cost going UP?

Larry Phelps
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Free Webinar – The Escalating Importance of Email Encryption

I would like to invite you to learn more about email encryption. Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute, and ZixCorp will discus the findings of a new survey. They will discuss:

• How the growth in the mobility market has influenced use of email encryption

• The value of ease-of-use for sending and receiving encrypted email

• Reasons for encrypting email, including compliance and business best practices

• Why you need to consider next-generation email encryption from ZixCorp
This 60-minute session will be followed by a 30-minute technical demo of ZixCorp’s email encryption solution. Please plan to stay on the line if your schedule allows.
Register now for this complimentary webcast and your chance to win an iPad2!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 (2:00 pm EDT)
One lucky participant will win an iPad2!

Click Here to Register

I am sure you will find it helpful.
Larry Phelps
Minneapolis, Minnesota

New HP Touchpad

HP Touchpad - Minneapolis MinnesotaHP has just announced a upcoming product called the HP Touchpad – The new HP Touchpad with WebOS should be coming out the end of this month or in early July. There is a waiting list now available for demo units. Here are some links to a great video about the touchpad. Pricing and a definite launch date should be coming out soon (rumor has it being announced in June 6th…but don’t hold your breath just yet).

HP Touchpad 3936 WMV View in Browser 65MB

HP Touchpad 3936QT QT View in Browser 480p-38MB

HP Touchpad 3936ownload H.264 960×540-64MB

HP Touchpad 3936 WMV Download 960×540-65MB

Securence Email Filter/Anti-SPAM

Securence Email Filter was
just selected the State of North Carolina as their email filter solution. With over 100 domains, over 100,000 users, and millions of emails each year. This choice was made very carefully. Securence was up against every major competitor and scored a 98 out of a 100, the second place finisher, among about a dozen, scored a 68! Securence dominated all the big players. Since the implementation, the users are reportedly love the fact that the many junk mail messages they used to get are gone. And IT loves it because their is little to no maintenance required.