Net use: a balancing act

As someone who has worked in information security for almost 20 years - both in and out of the government - I'd like to weigh in supporting FCW's recent editorial "Balancing Net access and risk" [FCW March 31]. The key point is the last sentence: Anyone using the Internet needs to consciously balance the risks and rewards of Internet use. The vehicle for documenting that balance is a policy for Internet use and Internet security.The unauthorized-use issue - employees hitting Web sites that aren't business-related - is a red herring. I'll bet cigarette breaks and copier room chat sessions burn up more business hours than Web surfing ever will. Any business or agency that wants to succeed these days needs to figure out how to measure and increase employee output not worry about what every employee is doing every minute they sit at a computer. Policies to prohibit access to pornographic or harassing material are appropriate. Web filtering to block stock quote checking and the like will end up costing more in the long run.Companies in private industry have taken the lead in using strong authentication and encryption technology to use the Internet to increase productivity while managing - not but eliminating - risk. At the same time DOD waits for MISSI and DMS while the federal civilian sector simply waits.John Pescatore Trusted Information Systems--johnp@tis.com

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