December 08, 2000, 3:27 PM —
INTERNET TECHNOLOGIES and the daily e-mail barrage expose your company to potential
security risks that could lead to confidentiality breaches, harassment suits, and
system crashes. Walter R. Boos, president of Content Technologies, a Bellevue, Wash.-
security software provider, recommends a three-step approach to policing the material
that travels in, out, and around your company via the information superhighway.
1. Establish a policy
Many managers believe that content security software is an easy catchall for
eliminating risks associated with the inappropriate use of e-mail or the Web at the
office. That's not the case, Boos says.
A manager must first examine corporate culture and operational structure to develop
an effective Internet-usage policy. Boos insists that the policy must be specifically
designed for each organization. Different companies have different needs; thus, you
cannot simply adopt another company's policy, Boos says. There are some areas that
every manager must consider, however. Boos recommends taking special care to safeguard
confidential business information and to prevent the circulation of threatening,
harassing, or sexually explicit e-mail.
2. Educate your staff
Managers may be worried that staff members will resent the installation of Internet
and e-mail surveillance tools. Don't let that stop the implementation of these tools or
policy guidelines. Boos asserts that as long as managers are up-front and adequately
explain their actions, it is "completely reasonable" to have surveillance software and
Web usage policies. People are open to e-mail and Internet monitoring tools if they
understand why these tools are being used, he says.
3. Implement flexible tools
Content security software, designed to automatically enforce your established
policies, is a hot-selling item and bound to become even hotter, according to IDC. Boos
stresses the importance of flexibility in such software to allow for variations in your
company's policy. For instance, he explains, you may want the software to park any huge
incoming e-mail files on your server for early morning delivery when system traffic is
less dense. But this particular rule might not make sense for certain departments or
employees who regularly receive large business files and need to access them
immediately. Your software should accommodate such exceptions, Boos says, as you will
likely decide that policies "may not be uniform for every single employee."