Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do you know? 12% of employees knowingly violate IT policies


According to a recent survey conducted by IT security company Fiberlink (H/T Workplace Diva), 12% of employees admit to knowingly violating IT policies. What types of violations might be occurring?

  • Inappropriate or excessive use (YouTube, shopping, gaming, pornography).
  • Misappropriation of confidential information.
  • Harassment of co-workers or others.
  • Moonlighting (e.g., checking Mary Kay sales).

I think the 12% number is light. I would bet that it’s closer to one-quarter to one-third of employees that misuse their employers’ technology. What can you do to best protect yourself. Let me suggest a seven-point plan.

  1. Audit your internet and email systems. Take stock of how much time employees spend on-line, what types of sites are being visited, and the breakdown of personal use versus work use. Once you get a handle on how your systems are being used, you can figure out what type of policy you want for your workplace, and how restrictive it needs to be.

  2. Draft and implement a Technology Policy. It should cover computers, email, social networking, and mobile devices. For more on how to draft this type of policy, see Do you know? 10 tips for drafting a workplace electronic communications policy.

  3. Cross-reference the Technology Policy in your Harassment Policy and training, and in any confidentiality policies, business ethics policies, and non-competition agreements.

  4. Require all employees to sign an acknowledgement that they received the policy, read it, had the opportunity to ask any questions about it, and understand it.

  5. Train all employees on the ins and outs of the policy, including what you consider inappropriate use of the internet and email, and that violations will lead to discipline or termination.

  6. Apply and enforce the policy fairly, consistently, and non-discriminatorily.

  7. At least annually, review and if necessary revise policies to keep them legally up-to-date.


Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.

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