Social media platforms are becoming increasingly popular even within the workplace and although such sites may turn out to be great promotional tools, and therefore blocking them completely would be counterproductive, reports have shown that social media platforms (such as Facebook and YouTube) host malware – besides being a means for employees to procrastinate during working hours.

Why should the rise of social media in the workplace concern you?

There are three very good reasons:

  1.  Abuse of Company Internet Connection – There are cases where employees both spread inappropriate content or view and download illegal, illicit material from their workstation. This can create legal liabilities for your business – therefore an unnecessary expense.
  2.  Cyberslacking – In 2007, around 233 million hours were lost every month in the UK as a result of employees’ time wasting on social networking sites. To add insult to injury, some entertainment businesses now seem to be accommodating cyberslacking; an example is Playboy’s plans of a work-friendly website. And if lost productivity was not enough, non work-related Internet activity is also dangerous for your corporate network because of web threats.
  3.  Bandwidth Hogging – Streaming video, for example, can lead to problems such as slow access to outsourced application services and corporate email. In addition, since the bandwidth used would be for non work-related purposes, it would work as an unnecessary expense as it would be consuming your business’s resources for something irrelevant.

How can you deal with these issues?

Controlling Internet usage saves you a great deal of money, firstly because a solid web monitoring solution would usually check that any files downloaded are free of malware, as well as offer the alternative to block certain hazardous or offensive sites. Secondly, if your company faces legal charges for illegal or illicit material, you would be able to provide records to prove your case as a comprehensive Internet monitoring software saves the web activity that takes place on your network. Thirdly, it controls and reports on bandwidth usage – preventing bandwidth hogging and identifying abuse.

Studies explain how, knowing that their Internet usage is being monitored, employees surf less on non work-related sites. This not only means that productivity is increased, and therefore also ROI (Return of Investment), but it also means the possibility of them clicking on sites which could be smokescreens for malware to gain access to your corporate network is lowered.

But it doesn’t stop at simply investing in a good Internet usage monitoring software and informing employees that their web activity is being controlled. Drawing up a good Internet usage policy and educating employees about the risks the Internet presents (and how to prevent them) is also important, not only because it teaches them about Internet safety, but because it helps them realize that their web activity is controlled for their security and not because they are not trusted.