Employee Computer Monitoring - Is it Necessary?

Employee monitoring can be a invasion of privacy if it is not handled right. At the same time employee monitoring does not not have to invade the privacy of the employees, if it is done properly. The question is, is it necessary to control and monitor computers at the workplace. According to many research and facts, it seems that it can be important to use employee control and monitoring.

Even though we assume most workers are honest and would not need any monitoring there are many that are dishonest at work. According to a National Retail Security Survey (USA) in 45.9 % of inventory shrinkage comes from employee theft much more than shoplifting and employees stole of estimation of 15.243 billion in inventory at work from their own employers.

There is a saying that the Internet is like any other community and therefore same thing that happens in the "real world" happens on the computers online. Therefore, we could estimate that there are problems and dishonesty with many employees on the Internet and company network as there is problems in real life.

Computer Security Institute (CSI) in San Francisco working with the FBI has done research on computer security and illegal behavior of workers and found out 90% of companies suffered from computer security breaches, and of the 45% of those that calculated the cost the total cost was estimated around $455,848. Among the most expensive part of the loss was related to financial fraud and stealing of intellectual properties. 80% of companies in the research suffered from financial loss in relation to their employees.

The Beliefs

Beliefs people often have on Internet crimes are similar to the facts of sex crime and violence in relation to beliefs of sex and violent crimes. Most people who worry about sexual predators and sex related crimes are more afraid of being victim of violent act of strangers. The facts tell us in most sexual and violent crimes the victim will know the offender. Same thing seems to be around company network security.

Most talk seems to be on those hackers and computer criminals that attack the system from the outside. At the same time, the facts are that 70-80% of all computer crimes are committed by employees against their own employers. These are often some kind of unlawful use of the company network and Internet connection by downloading pornography, downloading illegal material and abusing the email system in unlawful manner.

We can look at other facts to show how much the Internet at work can affect the workers honesty and productivity. It is estimated up to 75% of companies bandwidth is used for private activity on the Internet. An average of 30 min per day and many times lost more than that goes into personal use of the Internet at work each day. It has been estimated that $50 billion is lost each year in the USA just in relation to game playing on the company network.

The Concerns

Sexual harassment cases are also great concern in relation to this new technology. Unwanted material is being downloaded, printed, sent through companies email and intranet. Some of those things that lead to lawsuits are often a case of "not meaning no harm" it is meant to be a joke and pictures sent out to be funny. For many they actually are funny, but multimillion-dollar lawsuit will never be funny for any business. More than 15.000 sexual harassment cases are filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year in USA.

Is it necessary to use employee control on companies' computer and employee monitoring? These results at least tells that companies are in a risk of suffering from major loss though fraud, stealing of intellectual properties, illegal download, sexual harassment cases and loss of productivity if they do not monitor employees somehow and control and block somehow the behavior on the Internet at work. Companies will need to educate themselves about risk and decide policies and methods on activities such as, emails, chat, game playing etc.

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