Illegal Downloading at Work is Growing Fast

by on 18/02/2010

According to ScanSafe there has been a 55% increase in illegal music and software download attempts over 3 months on corporate networks. Over a year, that would be a 220% increase. Illegal downloading has always been common at home, but it appears that more and more people are deciding it is ok to do this at work.

There are 2 issues for employers:

  • A large proportion of illegal download websites are infected with malware and so each employee visit to these websites exposes the company network to risk.
  • Employers are put at risk for legal liabilities. Even if illegal downloading is expressly prohibited by the employer they may be liable – the principle of “vicarious liability”. And even when claims are unsuccessful, there are legal costs and management time demands to consider.

All organisations, however small, should check that their Internet use policy exists and is up to date.  However, they can’t stop there, they should educate employees about the policy, spell out the consequences of non-compliance, and require staff to sign an acknowledgement of the policy.

Technology can assist as well, and there are reasonably priced Web security solutions that will block employees from accessing illegal websites and report on anyone who attempts to do so.


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