Should you block websites in the work place?

What happens in an internet minute? According to Intel, the statistics are staggering – check out a handy infographic here. Here are just a few mind-boggling statistics: every minute 100+ new LinkedIn accounts are created, Facebook is logged into 277,000 times, YouTube gets 1.3 million video views and 320+ new Twitter accounts are created.

Because we spend a large portion of our waking lives at work, most of this activity is taking place at the office during the workday.

That’s right: all of this internet activity is taking place at your office, during the hours that you are paying for your employees to be professionally productive, using the internet connectivity and bandwidth that you are paying for. Okay, so you’re that ‘nice guy’ director who believes that happy employees equate to productive employees. You don’t want disgruntled or despondent employees so you don’t have a web access policy that blocks websites; consequently you allow unrestricted web access to all employees. It’s not a real issue, right? After all, everyone seems to be happy and business activity seems to be taking place as usual, so what’s the problem?

Unfettered web access has the following consequences:

Client service is affected – delayed responses to customer queries, inattentive front line staff. For example, employees sitting watching movies or updating Facebook when customers walk into a store.
Financial performance can be directly affected – delayed invoice and statement generation and lackadaisical credit control and debt collection
Additional costs – more and more bandwidth is required or productivity suffers as a result of poor response times.
Companies that allow unfiltered web access are soft targets and have higher exposure to hackers and other cyber criminals. Cyber-attacks have multiple motives and can affect your company in different ways. ‘Ransomware’ encrypts data across a corporate network and forces you to pay a ransom before access is granted (read more about ransomware here). Untraceable criminals gain access to banking details and empty your bank accounts. Industrial espionage attacks access confidential company data and sell this information to your competitors.
Access to inappropriate web content results in unintended exposure of this inappropriate content to customers and damages the company brand.
Still think that it’s unnecessary to block websites? Have a look at the infographic again (link above) – things are not going to get any better. Predictions are that by 2015 the number of networked devices in the world will be twice that of the global population. By now, you’re probably thinking that you should investigate the options that are available to block websites – and so you should.

Cloud-based office protection solutions are the best, most efficient and most cost-effective tools to build into your corporate web access policy and block websites.

Cloud office protection solutions incorporate the following great productivity enhancing features:

Easy to deploy and manage (thus limiting IT support expenditure)
Able to block individual selected websites or selected categories of websites (for example social media, porn, torrent download sites) or a combination of individual and categories.
Can be configured with different profiles that allow employees, managers and directors to have different access privileges. For instance, directors may need 24-hour unfettered access whilst front line customer agents require no access at all.
Can be configured to allow regulated access at specific times, for example, you may wish to grant access to social media sites during lunch times or after hours.
Can be installed on mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) and thus block website access across the corporate network from these devices.
Can be purchased on a monthly subscription basis with no long-term contracts, thus enabling you to have an elastic, scalable and cost-effective solution.
The bottom line is that it’s entirely possible to implement a web access policy that enables you to block damaging and inappropriate websites entirely, while still allowing access to other websites within limits and thus retain happy employees and enhance productivity and customer service.

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