VOL. 130 | NO. 84 | Thursday, April 30, 2015
PATRICK TAMBURRINO | Special to The Daily News
I recently received an information technology support request from an office of real estate folks, many of whom also hunt for hobby and client entertainment.
While trying to search online for terms related to hunting gear at work, they were faced with a warning page to contact the network administrator because their firewalls’ content filter wouldn’t allow such sites to be displayed.
It was an easy fix that involved removing a browser security feature to allow them access. Sometimes living in the South means relaxing some of the industry-standard IT controls for modern-day business environments. It’s also a good reminder for small- and medium-sized businesses to craft user settings based on their type of business.
A University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive than those who do not. Yet to prevent hackers from stealing private information, companies should consider how employees access certain websites on office computers by taking these steps:
Have specific policies and procedures in place. A written policy of basic principles – on Internet, social media, email, network/server storage, use of IT equipment, print management, etc. – is needed to ensure that users are not going outside acceptable usage of the company’s equipment and network. This “code of ethics” establishes an honor system between the employee and the company that can also be monitored from the back-end.
Consider your line of work. Advertising agencies or recruiting firms need access to social sites, whereas a bank may limit those and have much more robust firewalls. If you are a business with a sales presence, you may need to provide the ability for salespeople to access inventory or pull up product research; if in a regulated environment, it’s necessary to have stricter settings to protect customer databases and payment information.
Some sites should always be blocked. Social networking, sports or e-commerce sites have some arguable professional uses, but certain sites are often less appropriate related to your line of business and have the potential to leave your network in danger. Block sites that are gaming-, gambling- or adult-focused, as these could expose your computer to malware and virus attacks.
There are ways to beat the system. Resourceful people can find ways to get around your firewall. Remember that there are ways to access sites that don’t involve the direct URL. Talk to your IT department about reviewing your search terms and setting up additional layers to monitor employee web surfing so that your business is protected.
Patrick Tamburrino is the president of tamburrino inc., an IT strategy, support and management company in Memphis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.