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Substantial rise in illegal downloads at work

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Employers are being urged to monitor and curb employee internet usage after new research shows a 55% increase in illegal downloads on office computers.

Web security organisation, Scansafe, found that corporate computers are fast becoming a hotbed for illegal software downloads, including music files and malicious viruses, potentially placing employers under the legal knife.

“Inappropriate Internet use in the workplace can put the employer at risk for legal liabilities,” said Scansafe’s Spencer Parker.

“Downloading illegal content is a ‘double whammy’ for employers as not only does it put them at risk legally but it also puts the company network at risk of being infected. A large majority of free illegal downloading websites are often riddled with malware.”

Firms are being advised to double check their internet usage policies, established in employee contracts. Scansafe has also called on employers to educate workers on policies and make clear the severe consequences to both parties of non compliance.

“Employees mistakenly assume they can use the internet at work in exactly the same way as they use it at home and this is potentially one of the reasons for this steady increase in illegal download attempts over recent months,” added Mr Parker.

But employers have been told to make sure their monitoring and limits of employee internet usage are within human rights legislation.

Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, individuals have a right to certain amounts of privacy. Trawling through each employees’ internet history could leave employers open to yet another legal pothole, this time from disgruntled workers.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

January 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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