Why Does Your Organization Need an Internet Usage Policy?

By | October 19, 2011

An Internet usage policy consists of a set of rules that define how the internet should be used during work hours. Every business should have and enforce an Internet usage policy to secure the network, protect the company’s resources, and to boost productivity. If drafted properly and enforced as needed, this policy can greatly assist administrators. In this post I’m going to outline why and how an Internet usage policy can help your organization.

Why do you need an Internet usage policy?

An Internet usage policy will define what a user can or cannot do while using the company’s internet connection. The policy will clear up any misconceptions, clearly informing employees what is acceptable and what is not. Furthermore, should an employee breach the policy or act in a manner that is unacceptable or illegal, he or she cannot claim they were not aware of the rules. Without a policy in place, in the event of litigation, it would be the company’s word against that of the employee. An internet usage policy mitigates this risk and shows that a level playing field has been set out for everyone without discrimination.

A good Internet usage policy will guide and educate employees on browsing best practices and also define what activities could be harmful to the user and to the organization in general.

How to enforce an Internet usage policy.

Having an Internet usage policy is a good start, but companies also need to be in a position to enforce the policy. Monitoring internet activity within the company is important and there are different software packages that do this.

A robust solution should allow the administrator to configure the system in line with the internet usage policy and one key feature to have is site categorization. Depending on how strict the usage policy is, the administrator may also want to set time-based policies, as well as user-based policies (if the policy calls for different access rights for different user groups or individual users).

You should also make sure that the solution chosen has good forensic capabilities. In the event of policy breaches you will want to be able to generate reports that can identify the perpetrators and use the reports as evidence should further incidents occur or the problems escalate.

Having a good and detailed Internet usage policy makes a lot of sense because no organization can really expect employees to act in a certain manner if they are not told what is expected of them. An Internet usage policy is a key tool to keep employees informed of their rights and obligations in relation to internet usage and an important education source as well.

This guest post was provided by Emmanuel Carabott on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on how to monitor internet usage.

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