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RE: Web filters - Effects on Productivity
From: Nick Duda <nduda () VistaPrint com>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 15:34:07 -0400

I've noticed with content filtering we have less cases of "malware" getting installed on systems then without it. We 
use Smartfilter for different reasons in different sites, not just a means to restrict.

- Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: listbounce () securityfocus com [mailto:listbounce () securityfocus com] On Behalf Of Dan Lynch
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:03 PM
To: Noah; security basics
Subject: RE: Web filters - Effects on Productivity

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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