The Risk of At-Work Surfers

Monday Nov 22nd 2004 by Tim Gray
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A recent study shows that most employees are unaware of security risks associated with surfing the Internet on the job — are yours?

Network security is a high priority for every business, yet most employees are unaware of the potential security hazards of surfing the Web during office hours, a recent survey said.

The study, by storage solutions specialist Network Appliance, said 73 percent of 300 respondents polled admit they routinely access the Internet for personal use while at work.

However, what stunned the pollsters, added Kathy Trahan, NetApp's marketing manager, is that 85 percent of those surfers believe there is either no security risk or at most a very minor one.

"The lack of awareness to the risks involved with being on the Internet, doing personal activity, was very surprising," said Trahan, whose company surveyed several corporate sectors and geographic regions.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp said its survey was conducted to raise awareness of threats caused by the recent proliferation of phishing, spyware, spam and other types of Internet attacks. The company has partnered with security vendors such as Symantec, Cyberguard, and Secure Computing to create gateway security solutions to protect against these breaches.

"It is very widespread," said Chris Stewart, senior manager of the company's content delivery business unit. "All organizations are being affected by this."

A recent study of 494 companies conducted by security hardware vendor Britestream Networks and Q&A Research said network intrusions, usually a result of malicious hackers, cost those businesses $141.5 million last year.

The NetApp study also showed that 26 percent of those polled shopped online while at work, while 18 percent either researched or made travel plans on the Internet, activities that often spike during the upcoming holidays.

Other Findings
Nearly 80 percent polled said they spend at least one hour at day while at work on the Internet for personal use.

Employees often download attachments and/or files while accessing the Internet for personal use.

And 70 percent said employers had the right to monitor their Internet usage, but did not necessarily correlate that surveillance with protecting the companies' network infrastructure.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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