Time to go easy on that web filter?
Date: Sep 25, 2013
Guest post: Chris Pace, Blue Coat.
The internet. A magical land of boastful Facebook statuses, more videos of kittens than could ever be useful and the only way that 34 million people can instantly know what Justin Bieber is having for breakfast. It’s become integral to our life and work, driving an industrial and social revolution.
But even today, in businesses using it to achieve their goals the internet has a bad reputation. Our digital playground gets the blame for being a productivity hoover, distracting people when they should be writing emails or inputting to a spreadsheet. It seems obvious that to solve this perceived problem we’ve implemented web filters that help to keep our people “all business”. In reality, recent research suggests that unfettered web access could actually make people more productive in the long run (http://www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/surfing-the-web-at-work-actually-makes-you-more-productive-20110823/).
It’s not just a quest to get the best from people in our business that has seen the web filter become ubiquitous in networks. There is also a belief that particular types of web site carry a greater risk of infection from malware. In reality you’re much more likely to get infected from searching for a recipe for apple pie as you would browsing an adult website. (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/story/2012-06-17/poisoned-search-results/55654796/1)
So where does this leave us? Giving access to every type of website on the whole of the internet in a business environment is clearly not realistic. We still need to block things like pornography and illegal activities, but might want to be more lenient on other categories. Then we have to consider the impact on bandwidth. It’s already likely that over a third of your bandwidth is being used for streaming media traffic with significant spikes during big events. (http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/031512-streaming-video-257327.html?page=1)
As we move forward the tools that will help us get the most from the wonderful world wide web will be those that give us the right control over not just content and categories, but also make the most of the bandwidth that we have by prioritising how it gets used.