Another Reason Organizations Should Avoid Excessive Internet Blocking

Google Alerts have become an invaluable tool to keep track of WebSpy’s online presence and mentions. I’m also alerted on keywords related to other players in the Internet Security Industry. The last couple of weeks I have noticed quite a steep increase in alerts on a well-known internet blocking and filtering vendor. Majority of these alerts are linked with the frustration of being blocked and how to go about disabling and bypassing the blocking and filtering rules put into place.

Most frequently suggested bypass methods includes the use of public proxies, circumventors and http tunneling. I don’t wish to go into details on any of these methods as their use is NOT recommended. However, it does prove a point: The main reasons organizations block certain websites is to prevent security risks and unproductive internet usage. Although, it is an indisputable fact that employees’ use of virus ridden public proxies, and other elaborate methods, to overcome blocking efforts can in fact increase security risks and unproductive behavior – making matters even worse.

Obviously all employees do not take these measures, but isn’t it enough that some do? Yes, the same high risk and time consuming bypassing “techniques” could be used when trying to stay anonymous from internet monitoring software. However, there are two main differences:

  1. Using internet monitoring software reduces the need to block. Employees will be able to access the legitimate sites that often end up blocked thanks to a “block worthy” word in a corporate blog, or something of similar virtuousness. Not blocking means less time and effort spent trying to bypass blocking solution. After all, my mailbox is not full of alerts on how to bypass internet monitoring software.
  2. Using internet monitoring software will allow employers to detect who is up to no good trying to bypass blocking rules or browse anonymously. For example, if an employee continuously use public proxies or tunneling, an internet monitoring solution (or at least a good internet monitoring solution) can assist the employer in tracking down the offender. (Please have a look at “How to Improve Public Proxy Management” blog for more info.)

This blog simply adds to the convincing case against organizations’ excessive use of blocking and filtering solutions. Porn sites, known malicious virus and phishing sites – by all means, block the living daylight out of them. But as for the rest, as for news site, online shopping sites, social networking and general interest sites – Don’t block, monitor.

I want to avoid repeating myself so please have a look at previous blog for the full story on “The Cost of Blocking Employee Internet Usage

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