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Web content filtering - Financial Consequences
Why bother to filter web content? Some users still argue that filtering software is some form of censorship and it is a staff prevention technology rather than a money-saving one. The facts, however, paint a very different picture.

Being paid to waste time! It is estimated that in the UK alone companies are losing £9.6bn a year due to employees surfing the Internet on company time. Recent findings revealed that 44 per cent of Britons with Internet access at work spend three hours a week on average browsing the Web for personal interest.

Quote 1
"It is also estimated that a company with ten employees earning an average of £19,500 will lose more than £12,000 a year through Internet abuse, based on employees spending 30 minutes a day on non-work-related surfing," says Bob Jones, managing director of Equnnet.

Quote 2
"They are finding out that the Big Brother show is costing UK industry well over £1m every week through lost productivity of staff logging on to the site. Issues like this, bandwidth costs and potential litigation from employees distributing controversial content has spurred on the market for Web filtering products from a niche to a volume market," says Barry Mattacott, marketing manager ofe92plus.

Staff versus security Some would pose the question: So what if a few people do spend their time watching a bit of Big Brother or checking the latest football results? But these activities can have serious repercussions for a business.

Quote 3
"Many employees are spending an unreasonable amount of time viewing content on the Internet which is unrelated to their work It has many implications Bandwidth/network usage by employees accessing unrelated work items reduces the speed at which vital
business information is accessed," says Raj Panesar, Northern European marketing manager at Clearswift.

"Also, system downtime increases due to large amounts of files being downloaded and systems failing due to lack of resources There is also loss of productivity through either system downtime or
employee non-productive activity," he adds.

But it is not just security threats that need to be countered with web content filtering. In an era of tribunals and sackings for sending and receiving indecent material, there are the other legal considerations for firms.

Quote 4
"Companies have a requirement to provide a safe working environment for their staff where they are not exposed to abusive or explicit content. Employing filtering software helps protect the company network from abuse or misuse, ensuring it runs efficiently," says SurfControl's Corbelli.

SOME WEB CONTENT SURFING STATISTICS

• The average cost of one hour per day of non-business browsing on the Internet, or cyber-slacking, for every 1,000 employees is £6,000,000 per annum, or 12.5 per cent of the company wage bill (Websense Web site)

• A 5Mb attachment of a Joke screensaver consumes the same bandwidth as 160 plain text e-mails (Websense Web site)

• 70 per cent of pornography is downloaded during the 9 to 5 working day and 30 to 40 per cent of surfing during those hours is not business related. More than 60 per cent of on-line purchases are made during working hours (Websense Web site)

• Getting rid of the gossip, jokes and other unproductive e-mail from colleagues can save up to 30 per cent of the time an employee spends reading e-mail (Gartner Group, 8e6 Technologies Web site)

• 56.5 per cent of employees feel that surfing the Web or sending non-work-related e-mails decreases productivity, and 31 per cent of employers said they restrict employee Internet/e-mail usage (Vault.com survey)

• 37.1 per cent of employees said they surf the Web constantly at work, 31.9 per cent said a few times a day, 21.3 per cent said a few times a week, and only 9.7 per cent said never (Vault.com survey)

• Employees earning £50,000-£65,000 are twice as likely to download pornography at work than those earning less than £23,500 (eMarketer.com)

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