Five good reasons to monitor the behaviour of employees

February 2007 Cyber Security

In many ways, digital communication is out of control in most organisations. Changes in the business, technology and security landscape have brought about a hitherto neglected issue on employee communications to a head.

Traditional management checks are under strain and many enterprise networks are now out of control as staff connect to the Internet and freely use business facilities to exchange information with any person, any time, anywhere.

Large organisations face serious security risks and tough legal penalties if they fail to bring employee communications under control. And in today's Web2.0 world, basic e-mail and URL logging are simply not enough. The only solution is to bite the bullet and take an entirely new approach, bringing in new processes and technology to gain better visibility and control over information entering and leaving the enterprise.

Chronicle Solutions argues that there are five key reasons why now is the time to take employee monitoring seriously:

The risks from the internal security threat are growing and are likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Organisations simply cannot afford to ignore the serious and growing threats from identity theft, fraud and illegal information brokering.

The financial losses and reputation damage arising from fraud or inappropriate behaviour are rising and will become more significant with the increasing value of intellectual assets in a primarily digital economy.

There are many intrinsic security vulnerabilities in company infrastructures - through legacy system weaknesses or unpatched platforms - that can trigger a major security incident through malware introduced by an accidental or deliberate connection of a company laptop to an external network or from the attachment of an external device to a company network by staff or contractors.

In the absence of any monitoring software there is no adequate deterrent to compel employees to adhere to 'acceptable use' policy. There is also no formal evidence to support any related investigations and prosecutions arising from a misuse of facilities.

It would be irresponsible and potentially illegal not to monitor and maintain records of transactions with customers and critical business processes, because legal and regulatory requirements demand that organisations can readily demonstrate their operational compliance with all relevant legislation, standards and corporate policies.

The radical changes of the last two decades have transformed the business, technology and security landscapes, and permanently changed the way organisations manage information. The power of the network has driven a coach and horses through corporate perimeter controls and traditional approaches to information management and security, leaving organisations exposed to legal and compliance risks, and opening the door to a whole new set of sinister and damaging security threats.

Today's employees are highly empowered and have unprecedented power to access and compromise systems, infrastructure and confidential data across the organisation, potentially leading to serious, irrecoverable damage to the business interests of the organisation. These issues cannot be ignored for they now form part of the regulatory compliance requirements for most large organisations. And if they have not yet hit home then they shortly will, as new compliance demands have an inevitable tendency to be rapidly cascaded across jurisdictions, business sectors and supply chains. But the traditional fixes will not work in today's new business environment of empowered, streetwise, mobile employees.

Clear 'acceptable use' policies supported by ongoing education campaigns are essential to steer employee behaviour in the right direction. But these softer processes alone are not sufficient. They need to be reinforced by smart use of special purpose technology that can deliver realtime visibility, analysis and reporting of inappropriate web and e-mail communications, and enable future retrieval and reconstruction of communications to support compliance audits and security investigations.

Nick Kingsbury is the CEO of Chronicle Solutions.

For more information contact Chronicle Solutions, +44 (0)20 7240 0874, sales@chroniclesolutions.com





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