How Do I Block Porn at Work?

05.09.2016

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Regardless of your personal views on pornography, most employers don’t want their employees viewing porn at work. It’s clearly wrong for employees to view or share explicit images or videos at your workplace. It puts your company in the difficult position to explain how you allowed that content on your network, and shared via email, instant message, or social media post. It places your organization at risk for sexual harassment lawsuits, or could damage your business’s reputation.

While most companies focus their efforts on blocking viruses and malware, very few actively monitor and block inappropriate content such as explicit photos and videos on their messaging system. This post will explain the what, why and how of blocking porn images and videos at your business.

Why should I block inappropriate content at work?

Sexually explicit images in the workplace can degrade company culture, damage brand reputation and contribute to the creation of a hostile working environment.

You might think that the major cause of porn at work is unsolicited pornographic spam messages, but more likely inappropriate social communication between you employees and external contacts. Often they think that their messages will go undetected. Employees sometimes think that their work email is a private form of communication just between them and the recipient; however this is not the case. A single email can spread virally, both internally and externally, beyond its intended destination. If that email contains sexually explicit content there is a possibility that at least one of the recipients may find it offensive.

Let’s look at a recent example of where pornographic material was distributed via email in the workplace. Kathleen Kane, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, found that email servers in her office had been used to send offensive and inappropriate email messages between several lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and others.

This case clearly shows the need for organizations to monitor and block inappropriate images and videos in your work communication, especially in email exchanges. This can help prevent scandals and a avoid creating a hostile work environment. You need to be sure that you have oversight over what your employees are communicating, and you need to have a repository of all electronic communication, to ensure that you can easily review what is being communicated in your organization.

The sharing of illicit images and videos is not just limited to email. Web searches and social media are another popular source where sexually explicit content is accessed and shared while at work. Your company can be held legally liable for unlawful actions of your employees sharing this content on your network. Not only that, but your company’s reputation can be damaged in just moments. US Airways was in the media not long ago when an employee tweeted out an inappropriate image. Even though the lewd tweet was caught and quickly deleted, the incident went viral, creating negative headlines for days.

How much Porn is being accessed at work?

In 2010, the Nielsen Company reported that within a 1 month span, more than 21 million Americans accessed adult websites on their work computers. That’s 29% of all working adults!

They also reported that “Adult” sites were the fifth most accessed subcategory of sites accessed by employees, after member communities, online games, email and Instant Messaging. Yes, it beat out classifieds, current events, global news, etc. The truth is, porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. And 35% of all internet downloads are porn-related.

For some reason accessing porn at work appears to be a serious problem with government employees. A federal employee with top secret security clearance at an Air Force installation in Florida, recently admitted to spending hours each day at work searching for child porn each day at work. A pentagon employee attempted to access pornographic websites more than 12,000 times in 2015. As a result of cases like these, federal agencies are making a more concerted effort to monitor and track employees behavior on and off the clock to make sure they aren’t accessing aberrant content. One agency official is quoted, “the amount of child porn I see is just unbelievable.”

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How do I know if porn is a problem in my company?

My employees are good people. They aren’t really viewing porn at work, right? Well according to the Society of Human Resource Management, 70% of all online pornography access occurs between 9 am and 5 pm. 70 percent! In other words, more porn is accessed during work hours than any other time. The Neilsen report outlined where the porn access was coming from, but didn’t address total time spent during work hours.

According to PornHub (the world’s largest porn site) the majority of porn in the U.S. is now viewed using smartphones. 52 percent of the content on their site is viewed from a mobile device. 10 percent on tablets, and only 38 percent from a desktop or laptop. According to their statistics, Monday is the busiest day of the week.

Put frankly, If your organization is not proactively blocking/filtering pornographic material from the work place, then YOUR COMPANY HAS A PORN PROBLEM!

What are the laws and regulations regarding pornography in the workplace?

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated that the proliferation of pornography and demeaning comments, if sufficiently continuous and pervasive, may be found to create a hostile working environment. An effective preventive program should include an explicit policy against sexual harassment that is clearly and regularly communicated to employees and effectively implemented.

In 2015, the US Congress passed the ‘Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act’ to prohibit federal employees from accessing pornographic or explicit material on government computers and devices.

The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission has stated that sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Any of the following may count as sexual harassment:

  • The display of pornography
  • The circulation of obscene material (by email, for example)

All employers have a duty to protect their employees from sexual harassment, and they can be held liable for the unlawful action of those who work in their organization.

The Australian Human Rights Commission explains that a hostile working environment can involve emailing pornography. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes employers liable unless they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent it from taking place. Reasonable steps must be active, preventative measures. Other countries have similar guidelines. The point is that explicit and pornographic images have no place at work.

How can I block sexually explicit sites at work?

There are many software solutions on the market that can help with two types of illicit image infiltration. First and foremost is illicit image filtration for email. Email can contain pornographic images and content, both as inbound messages and as internal explicit images that can be sent outside of the network or shared within your organization. With a proper email filter, you can prevent these images from being spread.

The second type of solution is website filtering and blocking. As has been discussed, illicit websites are a major way for pornography to enter your network. However, with a good website filtering solution, you can monitor, filter and block web traffic. This means you can allow good content, while blocking inappropriate or illicit content.

What is the best software to block porn at work?

GWAVA Image Analyzer

GWAVA Image Analyzer gives you the ability to monitor and block illicit images, pornographic images, and inappropriate videos on your messaging system. This solution scans the actual composition of images and videos to ensure accuracy. Its sophisticated probability engine scans incoming and outgoing images, reliably distinguishes between obscene and offensive images and non-pornographic content, then stops the innappropriate content from entering or leaving your messaging system. For more information about GWAVA image analyzer, read this overview one sheet.

GWAVA Web Filtering and Content Blocking

GWAVA provides you the ability to monitor, filter and block HTTP traffic. GWAVA integrates with compatible ICAP systems to provide content filtering for incoming and outgoing internet traffic, including URL filtering, social media and search filtering. GWAVA intercepts inappropriate, illicit, pornographic or harmful content and alerts managers, administrators and other pertinent parties via email and the GWAVA interface.

Internet Access Protection

GWAVA scans HTTP traffic from a compatible ICAP device and prevents access based on URL category, reputation, policy and file type, including hidden executable and malignant files. GWAVA web traffic monitoring and filtering will protect your organization from the inherent risks of internet usage.

More Than Just Blocking

GWAVA content monitoring provides organizations the ability to filter content from a site, rather than blocking the site in its entirety. You allow content from sites that would have been totally blocked in the past, due to small quantities of inappropriate content. You determine and implement the access policy using GWAVA solutions.

GWAVA web and content filtering allows your employees to access, post and search good content while blocking inappropriate and illicit material.

Retain Social

Retain Social allows you to prevent sexually explicit or inappropriate posting through monitoring, filtering, blocking and archiving all social media, instant messaging and web searches. Plus, Retain Social prevents access to malicious, illicit or inappropriate websites. To prevent sexually suggestive or explicit content from being posted on social media, shared via instant messaging, searched on the web, or accessed via websites, Retain Social features Rule-based Monitoring. This allows you to define content that you do not want posted, or use the default rules. The default rules include: dangerous attachments by name, spam, internal virus, external virus, job search or headhunting risk, racism, sexual discrimination, profanity, staff welfare, drugs, information leakage and exaggerated claims. In other words, you can monitor your content for sexually explicit, or harassment terms and block them from ever being posted. Plus, you can alert administrators or management of the inappropriate content. Furthermore, with website filtering you can filter websites based on URL categories and corporate policies and with website blocking you can prevent users from accessing websites, based on the criteria you set or by identifying known pornographic sites.

What should I do now?

  1. Create a policy! It should outline what content is appropriate to access at work. This policy needs to cover website access, social media and instant messaging posting. It needs to include details on how company-owned devices should be used. It should also contain consequences of accessing porn, or other inappropriate content as listed in your policy.
  2. Training! Make sure your employees know that it is against company policy to access pornography.
  3. Implement a software solution that helps you stop pornography. Schedule a demo of GWAVA Image Analyzer, GWAVA Web Filtering and Content Blocking or Retain Social.
  4. Get FREE price quote for these solutions
  5. Turn Image Analyzer on for free today! If you are a current GWAVA customer, we can turn Image Analyzer on today and you can see how much porn is being accessed via email. Sign up by clicking the button below https://www.gwava.com/gwava-image-analyzer-risk-audit
  6. If you don’t currently have GWAVA, you can download a FREE 30-day trial and test it out!
  7. Visit http://fightthenewdrug.org/ to learn about the dangers of pornography
Sheldon Mills
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