The culture at most offices and workplaces has changed considerably over the years. Ten years ago, most computers with Internet access had blocks installed to keep employees from visiting websites that weren’t relevant to their daily work. Today, though, these blocks have become a thing of the past, and the monitoring of employee Internet activity has been set aside to put workplace resources towards other efforts.
This makes it easy for employees to peruse the Internet during working hours, even on websites that have nothing to do with their tasks of the moment. In some ways, a lack of Internet restrictions has improved workplace morale and made it easier to for workers to take care of certain tasks, such as making a doctor’s appointment or looking up an address, faster and with minimal interruption of their workday. But plenty of workers still use their paid time to check on sports games, read the news and even play time-killing games when they don’t feel up to the task of working.
While this might not be directly encouraged, many employers are content to leave their employees alone as long as they get their work done. But things can change when employees visit unsecured websites that cause viruses or other malware to make their way onto their computer. And things can get serious quickly if this malware works its way through the rest of the business’s computer network, corrupting data and software and possibly stealing sensitive information.
Sites to Avoid
Some guidelines go without saying. Websites featuring pornographic content, for example, are not only unsavory and frowned upon in the workplace, but they also often load viruses and other malware onto your computer, which can be a serious breach of security. Gambling websites are also a no-brainer, as are any sites that ask you to download any executable files in order to use the site.
But some websites may not be so obvious. Many websites hosting song lyrics are unsafe, as are survey sites or websites asking you to complete specific deals in order to unlock other specials. And be wary of links sent to you through email — particularly from senders you don’t recognize and/or trust.
What to do to Reverse the Damage
Sometimes a user might not even realize that their Internet activity has resulted in a virus or malware being loaded onto their computer. But if you suspect that this has happened, there’s only one thing do to: alert your company’s computer department. This isn’t the preferred method for many people, but in the long run, it’s the safest, and the best choice for your company. The sooner IT professionals are alerted to the potential breach, the faster they can address the problem with antivirus software or other remedies.
There are usually safeguards in place to prevent huge disasters from taking place and most companies have a backup strategy. If not, there are methods of recovering data that can be invaluable to restoring company files.
This could greatly reduce the harmful effects of your Internet activity, potentially saving you and your company from the disastrous effects of having your personal or company information stolen. Even if your Internet activity has violated company policy or cast you in a negative light, your employer may be appreciative of the ownership you took in reporting the accident to protect the company’s interests.
That could earn you some leniency from your employer and even save your job. Of course, there’s always the risk that your actions will lead to a penalty in some form, and some employers may choose to let you go based on the incident and other information related to your conduct. That’s why it’s safer just to moderate your Internet use, both at work and at home, to avoid what can happen when your computer’s security is compromised.