Among the long list of summer to-do’s for most IT departments, updating their organization’s Internet acceptable use policies (AUPs),is high on the list, but often ends up being overlooked due to the scale of other major system and software upgrades. According to Bloxx , there are several ways IT can mine Web filtering data to make policy updates easier and quicker, while creating more effective yet flexible rules.
“The data on potentially harmful or non-productive Web searches within an organization with even just few hundred users includes tens of thousands of Web search data points,” says Charles Sweeney, CEO of Bloxx, a leader in Web content filtering and email security. “Collecting and analyzing these search requests with advanced Web filtering tools offers insight on how to set acceptable use policies that balance protection with access to vital information and resources.”
Most organizations have AUPs that describe how employees can use corporate networks to search and download data from the Internet. Schools participating in the e-Rate program are mandated by the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to establish policies that specify how to monitor and block harmful Web browser searches by students. Using Web content monitoring tools, organizations can analyze search patterns that can help reinforce or refine current AUPs. Bloxx recommends that organizations conduct a summer tune-up of the Internet AUPs based on the answers to the following questions:
- What’s Changed Since our Last AUP Review?
By tracking Web search patterns gleaned by Web content filter analysis tools, IT pros can tune-up their AUPs to make them more appropriate for their organization versus one-size-fits all approaches. For example, most schools have firm guidelines against searching for video content which is bandwidth draining, often inappropriate or can carry dangerous malware. Yet, a review of recent searches may show teachers looking for valuable learning videos. These requests can be accommodated with more powerful and flexible Web content filters. Conveying these distinctions in AUPs can make Internet use more helpful while still maintaining needed protections.
- Personal Use Versus Office Productivity?
A review of search data may show that employees are spending unproductive personal time on the Web during all work hours, or that there’s just a peak during lunch hours. Some experts suggest that allowing appropriate personal searches, such as on social networking or online shopping sites during lunch hours can improve employee morale and even productivity (one argument being that a ten minute shopping trip online is better than employees driving to a store resulting in an over-running lunch hour). Organizations can adjust personal use policies accordingly, and tune their Web filter to allow certain kind of searches during set hours.
- Who’s Using the Web for What?
Most organizations have an “all-or-nothing” approach to setting AUPs and using filters to block Web access, but they might take a more flexible approach. For example, a school district may set different search approval parameters for its teachers or older students compared with younger students. Web filtering technology that accommodates different settings for different types of users is one factor in being able to create AUPs that recognize different levels of users (teachers versus students, senior management versus manufacturing employees, etc.).
“Many groups only use their Web filters to ‘monitor and block’ inappropriate content,” continues Sweeney. “Yet these tools also offer valuable analytics to help information technology departments create strong and appropriately flexible acceptable use policies for their organizations.”
Headquartered in Boston, Bloxx Inc. offers Web and email filtering and security for medium and large organizations in both the business and public sectors. Bloxx has achieved unrivalled sales growth year-on-year to become a leading Web filtering provider with an estimated 5 million+ users worldwide. To find out more about Bloxx Web filtering, call 617-924-1500, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bloxx.com to book an online demonstration.