Beware if You Use the Internet at Work

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Employers and employees are at risk from using the internet. Recent reports highlight risks from phishing, data loss, time spent on social media while at work and cyber bullying. UK management consultants spearheading a response.

A UK management consultancy with an international reputation for helping businesses to grow and avoid risk, has highlighted recent alarming reports on the risks of allowing employees to access the internet. In response they have produced a free booklet for employees, to help protect them against a number of such risks.

Michael Coates, Managing Director of Protostar said “Only this week the UK Fraud Authority estimated that 1.8 million people have their details stolen via the internet each year and that the cost is more than £1.9 billion. I think most people assume this only happens from home computers, yet not only do people keep their own details on their work PC, but also they contain a wealth of information about a business.”

While most business believe that they have comprehensive safeguards to protect data, they still run the risk that every time an employee sends an email, clicks on an unknown link, saves data to a USB stick or posts messages on Twitter, data could be handed over to competitors or worse. The recession is inevitably leading to job losses, a situation that was brought to focus in a recent survey by “Cyber-Ark” which found that 60% of workers in the City of London would be prepared to steal data from their employer if they thought their job was at risk and 40% had already downloaded data just incase.

Michael Coates, commented, “Easy access to data and in particular social networking is a nightmare for any business wanting to protect its data and reputation. Never a week goes by without a high profile termination of employment due to misuse of a social network, in fact there are so many that, such people have a Facebook group of their own!”

Businesses are slowly catching up and issuing social media policies but Michael Coates from Protostar would challenge any business to re visit them and ensure that they are fit for purpose. He said “A recent survey indicated that on average, an employee aged 18 – 35, spends 1.5 hours a day using the internet for non work related reasons and up to 4 hours per week updating their Facebook page. If that’s an average, just think what some people are doing. In addition a survey in September 2010 by Panda Security highlighted that 55% of malware and phishing attacks on work computers came from employees using social media and YouTube.”

While loss of Data and reputations, is clearly an issue that should be worrying business leaders, the upcoming menace is that of cyber bullying. In the UK and USA, employers have a legal obligation to protect employees against harassment. Increasingly employers have policies and procedures for dealing with it, but are unprepared or unaware of cyber bullying. It can take many forms, such as abusive emails, social media postings, hijacking someone’s profile and posting lies, or simply setting up a fake profile. In recent months there have been more reports of suicides as a result of cyber bullying and Michael Coates from Protostar urges employers to face up to their responsibilities and take more attention of this method of harassment. “Cyber bullying, might seem less harmful than physical or sexual abuse, but it is often far more assiduous and draining and must be tackled.”

To help employers tackle many risks related to employees having access to the internet, Protostar Leadership Development, has produced an 8 page guide that can be edited and distributed to employees. It covers email etiquette, social media, cyber bullying and inappropriate website usage. The booklet is free to download along with other resources, from http://protostar-uk.com/InternetAtWork.aspx

Note To News Desks
We have images available. For further information/interview requests please call Michael Coates +44 (0)191 3855455 michael(at)protostar-uk(dot)com

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Michael Coates
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