Survey: Legal liability of Web access a top concern

The No. 1 concern for managers who use Internet access management tools is legal
liability, followed closely by employee productivity, according to a recent survey by
NetPartners Internet Solutions Inc. of San Diego.

“Government buyers are less concerned about legal liability than their private
counterparts, but both still rate legal liability as the top concern,” said Bryan
Wampler, NetPartners’ public relations manager.

The market for access control products has grown swiftly because of concerns about
wasted time and improper access to sexually explicit material via the Internet.

“It’s not a hard sell at all in the government,” Wampler said.

NetPartners last month announced an enterprise version of its WebSense product, which
monitors Web use and enforces access policies by blocking sites based on known addresses.
WebSense Enterprise will let managers remotely set and enforce policies across a LAN or

WebSense can run with an existing firewall or proxy server, or as a standalone proxy
server. Instead of scanning content, the access manager consults a database of 350,000 Web
sites that have been inspected and assigned to one of 30 categories.

Managers can block sites by category or manually by address. They also can manually
exempt sites in a blocked category.

WebSense’s management module interfaces with the proprietary database to set
policies. A monitoring module creates log files of Internet activity, and a reporting
module compiles data from log files into reports.

In the survey, government users rated their concern about legal liability at 4.26 on a
5-point scale; private-sector users rated it at 4.43. Employee productivity earned a 4.11
score among government users and 4.13 from the private sector.

The issues of explicit material and wasted work time merged in the case of the Starr
Report. NetPartners estimated that businesses lost more than $450 million in employee
productivity when Congress released the report and President Clinton’s video
deposition over the Internet this past fall.

The study estimated that if half of the 27 million downloads were made at work and then
studied for an hour, the ultimate cost ran to an estimated $470 million. Strain on network
resources could put the cost higher, the study concluded.

NetPartners makes lists of sites devoted to events that could distract employees. It
has generated lists of sites carrying items such as the Starr Report and sports events.

NetPartners will roll out WebSense Enterprise shortly, starting at $495 for a 25-user

Contact NetPartners at 800-723-1166. 

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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