RealTime IT News

Indian Firms Seek To Prevent Employee Misuse Of Net

Indian companies which have recently hopped onto the cyber-bandwagon are anxiously attempting to outwit mouse-happy employees and prevent misuse of expensive Internet connections.

While some organizations like UPharma have decided to restrict Internet access to the R&D department, others like Philips have replaced individual e-mail facilities with group e-mail, which makes personal correspondence awkward.

Companies like BPL are also contemplating installing software which will filter out non-work related sites.

"We try to block X-rated sites because we don't want people to waste time and office resources," maintains S. Paul, head of software division, Zicom, pointing out that most organizations are in search of effective software solutions.

International software packages like Net Nanny, SurfWatch and WebSense apart, a number of Indian products have also popped up in the market for example, Quantum Link's Surf and Ruksun Software Technology's Kid's Internet Suite.

Kids' Internet Suite was originally meant for parents who wanted to control their children's cyber-activities. One engineering design company, for example, hopes to use the kiddie product to restrict its employees to engineering-related sites.

None of these software packages are foolproof, however, a fact which substantially complicates matters for employers.

"It is easy to block playboy.com, but not so easy to block some obscure Swedish site," points out Mohan Siroya of Netinter, adding that the Internet changes too quickly for any list-based software to keep up.

Adds the technology manager of a pharmaceutical organization, "We decided to block all sites containing suggestive words like 'sex', 'teen' and 'hot.' But we ended up blocking even innocent sites like teen radio stations and Hotmail. And many pornographic sites with less obvious names got through."

"However, senior officials decided that we need to stimulate outgoing traffic and get our employees to keep track of competitors via the Net. So we decided to use a new system--we regularly air our views through e-mail newsletters to all our employees," he said.

The impact of e-mail as a tool of communication (in this case almost like a memo) has curtailed the habit to a large extent.

The employees know that Big Brother is watching and that keeps them in check, he added. A few organizations likeTCS have adopted a more efficient approach.

"We have made it known that through the proxy-server we can track all Internet activities," says a representative of TCS. "The fear of being found out is enough of a deterrent and we don't need to block sites individually."