People are the weakest link in IT security
March 28, 2006
According to a UK government report, employees in a company and people in various organizations who visit inappropriate Web sites is now categorized as the second largest cause of Internet security breaches in corporate IT systems worldwide.
To be sure, this year's Department of Trade and Industry biennial Information Security Breaches Survey states that 41% of the biggest incidents involved staff accessing inappropriate "Internet destinations".
Exactly 36% of the largest Internet security breaches came from "excessive web surfing" and in the most serious cases companies found staff accessing child pornography.
"The problem with giving employees easy access to email and the Internet is that the potential for damage is immense," said Ian Bowles, senior vice president at security software firm Clearswift.
"Despite an increased awareness of the issue, employees are still the weakest link in the security chain."
However, Chris Potter, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which carried out the survey, said that companies are getting wise to employees' surfing habits.
"As companies implement better controls around email and web usage, they tend to detect misuse already happening," he explained.
"Where those businesses have an acceptable usage policy in place, they are nearly three times as likely to detect misuse as those that do not."
The report also found that the number and speed of internet connections had increased slightly since 2004. Around 97 per cent of UK companies now has an internet connection, 88 per cent of which are using broadband.
This is up from 93 per cent of companies with internet access in 2004, when most small business connections were still using dial-up.
The full results of the survey will be released on 25 April at Infosecurity Europe in London.
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