Are your employees’ browsing habits inviting malware?

Analysis, Security 1807 views

With such a widespread increase in malicious, fraudulent, phishing and scamming sites appearing daily, what guarantees does the IT administrator have that one of the employees will not visit a website that has been compromised and infected by malware?

Very few! And those guarantees disappear if the organization does not have adequate security solutions in place. We’re not talking just email security here but web security as well.

A recent survey among small and medium businesses in the US found that 40% know with certainty that they suffered some sort of security breach as a result of employees navigating to websites that host malware, infected downloads or have been corrupted by malicious code.

The Internet is a hornets’ nest of malware and other nasties and the bad guys are primed to pounce on suspecting users. What is worrying is that despite the high risk of infection, there are still organizations that are not paying attention to the problem or they are doing so for a good but not necessarily the most important reason.

The results show that even in the face of such infections, a majority of web monitoring software users do not cite defense of their network as the main driver for deploying such a solution. 55% of SMBs indicate that defense against infected websites is not their main priority.

A total of 24% of all respondents use it mainly to ensure employee productivity; 13.5% to conserve network bandwidth and speed; and 11.5% to prevent employees from visiting inappropriate sites.

These are all valid reasons to use web monitoring software but what about security?

These results indicate a lack of awareness about the full capabilities of web monitoring software and how these solutions are evolving into critical components of effective SMB network security practices. Protecting the network from malicious websites and downloads should be a top priority for IT managers in addition to concerns over employee productivity and bandwidth management.

The survey found that 70% of those not using web monitoring or filtering software claim that web use is not a problem in their organization. With all the threats that are reported in the media on daily basis, these organizations are really taking a big risk.

Web monitoring solutions that equip IT administrators with an additional layer of network defense against online threats and provide employees with the tools they need to make better, safer decisions while online go a long way in helping SMBs balance the benefits of Internet access with the risks it creates.

The survey of 200 U.S.-based IT decision makers at organizations with between five and 249 employees was fielded by noted polling expert Opinion Matters, between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, 2011.

David Kelleher is Communications and Research Analyst at GFI Software.