‘Sinful Seven’ Online Activities at Work

‘Sinful Seven’ Online Activities at Work
Nearly four out of five technology professionals believe employees are putting their companies at risk by failing to act safely online, according to new research.

In a study by anti-virus firm Sophos, 79% of the IT workers polled said that in spite of their group’s instructions, many employees continue to open unsolicited e-mail messages and attachments, and to inadvertently download spyware from Web sites.

“In most cases, it’s not that people deliberately behave recklessly online — rather, they don’t know how to act responsibly, and may not be fully aware of the potential consequences of unsafe internet and e-mail usage,” said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Whether staff are downloading and opening unsolicited attachments, or surfing the Web for sordid content not permissible at home, it’s the responsibility of the company to ensure that employees are educated about the risks, and given the right tools to defend themselves.”

So what are the sinful seven? Here is Sophos’ list of risky online activities at work:

• Downloading music and movies.
• Opening e-mail attachments or clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails.
• Surfing pornographic or other dubious Web sites.
• Running “joke” programs sent by friends and colleagues.
• Installing unauthorized software and Web browser plug-ins.
• Giving information to unknown parties via phone or e-mail.
• Using the same password on different Web sites.

In another poll, Sophos found that 63% of IT professionals believe workers who fail to follow safe computing guidelines should receive official warnings, and that those warnings should escalate all the way up to potential firings. About 10% of respondents feel so strongly about risky online behavior that they think scofflaws should be dismissed on the spot.

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