For IT professionals, the Internet has proven enabling. But just as often, the World Wide Web and its networked services can wreak havoc within even respected companies.
For example, Chevron Corporation blundered in 1995 when it was forced to settle a lawsuit filed by four employees claiming they were sexually harassed via the company's e-mail system. The incident may have been averted, and more than two million dollars saved, if Chevron’s IT staff had implemented simple precautionary measures, such as implementing and enforcing an e-mail policy similar to this one. IT policies and procedures, properly administered, can often mitigate or eliminate common, but troubling, workplace issues.
Why policies are important
Such harassment suits are not the only problems corporations encounter. Nancy Flynn, executive director at the ePolicy Institute, said that, "anytime you allow your employees to access the e-mail, intranet, or Internet system, you're putting your organization at risk of a broad range of potential and costly liabilities."
For example, companies fear the loss of trade secrets and confidential information. Organizations are exposed to e-mail viruses, and untold hours are lost by employees surfing the Web for information unrelated to their jobs.
One of the most widespread dilemmas for IT professionals worldwide involves Internet misuse and pornography. In 1996, Neilson Media Research, Inc. found that employees at three large international companies together visited Penthouse magazine's Web site almost 13,000 times in a single month, consuming the equivalent of close to 350 eight-hour days.
Faced with problems like this, Internet usage policies are the best lines of defense IT departments can adopt. Not only are they proactive steps that help set necessary alarms, but they also provide guidance for disciplinary action. Such policy-based management has caught on as an effective method for reducing administrative costs, tightening security, and helping troubleshooting efforts.
Beyond the Internet
Internet access is only one IT service that needs protecting. An Internet usage policy is the first battle in the seemingly never-ending war to protect employees and maintain efficiency. There is no single product—indeed, no single protocol—that provides complete protection and all the equipment necessary to enforce an organization’s policies and procedures. IT departments must manage a variety of issues beyond Internet usage.
Security concerns extend beyond the network to physical aspects, such as the upkeep of company equipment. There is also a vast amount of offline data that must be protected.
Wireless devices can be lost or stolen. Worse, the proprietary information they contain can fall into competitors’ hands.
Separate policies need to be created for all of these issues, not only to avoid disaster, but to know what to do when disaster does inevitably strike.
Policies must be created to deal not only with technical security issues, such as viruses and the privacy of confidential information, but also for more general management issues, such as remote access and employee performance. Procedures also need to be in place for IT department responsibilities, such as meetings, training, and help desk support.
Put TechRepublic's tools to work
To help mitigate these security concerns, TechRepublic has compiled critical policies and procedures covering everything an IT department needs, no matter the organization's size. Whether you're looking for an Internet or e-mail policy, an instant messaging policy, or a set of guidelines for software installation, TechRepublic's CD-ROM, IT Professional's Guide to Policies and Procedures, Second Edition, collects the tools and forms you need. With this tool, not only can you gain insight into the importance of a variety of policies, but you can access a number of templates and print them quickly and easily on your organization’s letterhead. You’ll also find proven tips from real-life IT professionals who have survived security breaches and other disrupts and learned firsthand the best ways to handle disorderly employees.
TechRepublic’s policies and procedures CD-ROM includes nine sections:
- Assets and inventory
- Internet and e-mail use
- Data retention
- Administration and support
- Management and oversight
Put the power of TechRepublic’s Policies and Procedures CD-ROM to work for you
Order your copy of TechRepublic’s IT Professional’s Guide to Policies and Procedures, Second Edition CD-ROM today. Newly revised and updated, this time-saving CD collects more than 40 critical policies and procedures, including ready-made and customizable templates you can implement quickly and efficiently in your organization.
Whether you're looking for policies on Internet usage or employee dress codes, the one thing to remember is that you're doing the right thing by taking matters into your own hands. Instead of risking liability, this CD-ROM will help you work to avert frustrating, time-consuming disasters altogether.