Employee study cites rampant Internet abuse
Web posted at: 9:59 a.m. EDT (1359 GMT)
by Carolyn Duffy Marsan
(IDG) -- More employees are checking their stock prices, shopping for
travel bargains and exchanging personal e-mail via the Internet while at
work - even though their companies prohibit these activities, according
to a recently released study.
Commissioned by Elron Software of Burlington, Mass., which provides
Internet access and e-mail content filtering software, the study found a
significant increase in the number of companies with Web and e-mail
usage policies. But the study also found that despite these policies,
employees' personal use of corporate network resources is rising.
Elron's second annual corporate
Internet usage study was conducted by NFO Interactive, a market research
firm that interviewed 576 employees who have Web and e-mail access at
work. For the companies represented in the study, 68% have Web usage
policies, up from 48.9% a year ago. Less than 60% have corporate e-mail
policies, an increase from 46.5% a year ago.
One of the study's most alarming findings is a 170% increase in the
number of employees who acknowledged receiving confidential information
from employees at other companies. The number of respondents who
reported receiving confidential e-mail leaks jumped from 9.2% in 1999 to
24.1% in 2000.
According to the study, employees are getting more personal e-mails with
attachments, with 73.5% of respondents saying they receive these types
of e-mails compared to 63.6% last year.
In addition, nearly one out of five respondents received at least one
potentially offensive e-mail per month from a co-worker.
"Lots of companies are finding that their exposure is shifting from the
Web to e-mail," says Ray Boelig, president and CEO of Elron Software.
"Companies face a lot of issues with regard to leakage of confidential
information, excessive spam and offensive e-mail."
In the area of inappropriate surfing, one in three corporate workers
said they spend 25 minutes or more each day using the Internet for
personal reasons. Much of that time is spent shopping, with the most
popular destination sites for vacations and vehicles.
Employees report worse behavior among their colleagues. Nearly one in 10
respondents say they have seen co-workers accessing adult sites, while
nearly one-third say they have seen co-workers job hunting on the
Companies seem to be cracking down on inappropriate Web usage. One out
of three employees say they know a co-worker who has been confronted for
The study's findings are worse than expected for David Bradshaw, an MIS
analyst at a Comcast Communications division in King of Prussia, Penn.
Bradshaw uses Elron's Internet Manager software to monitor Internet
usage by 100 Comcast employees in his building.
"I mostly see people going to news sites or Pointcast or the NCAA Final
Four site, but for the most part, it's before business hours, after
business hours or during lunch time," Bradshaw says. "I've been
monitoring usage for six months, and I haven't seen anyone go to adult