Do you use filtering restrict your employees’ use of certain websites or online properties? If you don’t 58% of your employees may be spending at least four hours per week (equivalent 26 workdays per year, or at least 10% of a standard 40-hour week), on sites unrelated to their job, a new Spiceworks survey revealed.
Among organisations that restricted one or more website on the corporate network, 85% do so for illegal and unethical/inappropriate sites, 61% for online dating sites, 38% for social media channels, and 34% restrict personal instant messaging services.
Other restricted sites/online properties include video streaming services, music streaming services, online forums/communities, and personal webmail services.
Interestingly, only 13% restrict online retail sites.
When it comes to social media channels, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are most commonly blocked on corporate networks – 36% block Facebook, 36% block Snapchat, and 35% block Instagram.
Other blocked social media channels include Twitter (32%), Pinterest (31%), and LinkedIn (16%).
Results indicated that in organisations that block or limit the use of social media, only 30% of employees spend more than four hours per week on non-work-related-sites compared to nearly twice as many employees (58%) in organisations that don’t block social media.
By organisation size, large businesses are more likely to restrict online properties compared to mid-size businesses with 100 to 999 employees, and small businesses with one to 99 employees (96% vs 92% vs 81%).
In line with that, results suggested more employees are staying on task in larger organisations – only 28% of employees spend more than four hours per week on websites unrelated to their job, compared to 45% in mid-size businesses and 51% in small businesses.
Apart from productivity implications, security implications are among the top reasons organisations enforce web filtering.
About nine in 10 organisations restrict websites to protect against malware/ransomware infections, 84% wanted to keep staff from visiting inappropriate sites at work, and 83% sought to prevent unacceptable user behavior — all of which could have legal or cybersecurity implications.
In comparison, only 45% restrict sites to increase employee productivity.
Digging deeper, survey results revealed that these security concerns are not unfounded. In the last 12 months, 38% of organisations experienced one or more security incidents through the use of non-work-related websites on the corporate network. These security incidents primarily stem from the use of personal webmail services (15%) and social media channels (11%).
Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, said: “It’s evident web filtering is effective at keeping employees on task and reducing security risks. But in a world where IT professionals are constantly performing a balancing act between protecting networks and enabling and trusting employees to do their jobs, sometimes it’s not possible to block every potentially dangerous website. As a result, web filtering should only be one part of a multi-layered security strategy, instead of being viewed as a cure-all.”
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