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RE: Web filters - Effects on Productivity
From: "Dan Lynch" <DLynch () placer ca gov>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 12:02:54 -0700

I've been working with internet filtering and content control for an
organization of some 2500 web users for about six years. I've not done a
solid study, but in that time I've come to the opinion that there are
plenty of ways to waste time without the internet. 

I look at excessive internet use like any other time waster - it's a
social problem, not a technical one. If someone's not getting their job
done, their supervisor needs tell them one-on-one to quit leaning on
their shovel and get to work. On the other hand, if their work is
getting done, what's the problem? Pretty soon you get to the point of
arguing that any moment not spent specifically creating value for the
organization is "wasted" and must be recouped. Anyone with a life will
argue with that. 

I drink coffee. When I fix a cup, I take three minutes out of my work
day to do so. I have two cups a day. Each time I take a sip I'm not
providing value to my company. Add it up: each cup is maybe 50 sips x 3
seconds x 2 cups/day + 6 minutes prep time = 11 minutes/day spent on
coffee, not work. I work about 250 days/year, so each year I waste some
2750 minutes of county time. Multiply that by my fully encumbered
salary, and I steal nearly $2,300 each year from the county. We have
some 1500 coffee drinkers. That's nearly 3.5 million dollars in lost
productivity per year from coffee alone.

But do we implement coffee monitoring? It sounds absurd, but this is
exactly the logic used to sell internet filtering software. I think it's
silly. Surfing the internet while you should be working is a social
problem and a management problem. Using technology doesn't solve it; it
only allows managers to be lazy.

I think the best approach (cheapest and most effective) is direct and
personal: walk up to whoever is wasting time on 45 minute smoke breaks,
surfing ebay, chatting with their friends for an hour on the phone,
smack them on the back of the head and say "knock it off!". Works every
time, and no software is required  :-)

Dan Lynch, CISSP
Information Technology Analyst
County of Placer
Auburn, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: listbounce () securityfocus com 
[mailto:listbounce () securityfocus com] On Behalf Of Noah
Sent: Saturday, April 19, 2008 7:58 PM
To: security basics
Subject: Web filters - Effects on Productivity

I'm currently researching web filtering.  While my job is not 
to play Internet Police with those whom I work, I do find it 
interesting that even though my company has a seemingly 
draconian Internet Access Policy, people still seem to waste 
plenty of time on the Internet.  I, for one, am not exempt 
from this statement.

My thoughts are that Web Filtering means different things to 
different people.  HR believes that blocking sites such as 
CareerBuilder, Monster and LinkedIn keeps employees from 
sniffing out better jobs on company time.  Desktop support 
believes it decreases the number of avenues for a widespread 
virus outbreak.  Managers believe it keeps employees from 
wasting time in chat and on social networking sites.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure how effective the 
productivity piece really is.  If users can't access Facebook 
many settle for wasting an hour on the "letters to the 
editor" section of the local newspaper's website.  As for the 
blogs I read (many security-related blogs are hosted on 
Blogger or Wordpress, which are blocked), I simply add them 
to Google Reader, which I can access.  I read them anyways, 
at least they're related to my job.

I'm not bringing into question the technical security 
benefits of web filtering; those are obvious.  Do web filters 
in schools and offices
*really* give productivity a boost, or do they simply shift 
what sites or activities employees waste company time on?  
Have there been any solid studies on this topic?


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