Are you bypassing your company’s IT policies?

While reading the paper version of ComputerWorld this morning, I stumbled an article reporting that more than half of Gen Y employees regularly bypass corporate IT usage policies at their workplace, and a quarter of them face no repercussions for doing so. These results came out of a study performed by Toronto-based research firm Harris/Decima, which surveyed more than 1000 workers with ages between 18 and 29 about their attitude towards technology.

Now, I’m a sysadmin, and I don’t know about you, but I think the percentage of 18-30 year old IT workers violating IT policies is probably much higher than that. Ballpark figure? Probably around 100%.

Social media sites have became part of everyday life for most people under 30, yet most of the time these sites are classified as “forbidden” by corporations. It’s easy to understand why the reported percentage is so high. While CIO might see the situation in a different eye, for most IT employees, using Facebook or twitter is just like placing a phone call to a friend; they see nothing wrong with it.

What do you think? Is Gen Y too lax, or IT policies too strict?

And are you browsing at work?


22 Responses to Are you bypassing your company’s IT policies?

  1. Oddly enough I am accessing this from work. I check my RSS feed during lax periods in my workday or between other time-consuming tasks.

    I am Gen Y and I must feel at least a touch of guilt about viewing it, because I'm always ready to switch over should one of my managers walk up behind me.

    The really big bandwidth offenders get blocked by my company's network guys. So no Facebook or Twitter here. For awhile it seemed like they were looking at my history for all non-work sites, then blocking those.

    Maybe because I work in the tech field and [GAS] is clearly an informative news site to that very field, it continues to be allowed. Yay corporate loopholes!

  2. Interestingly, I can get the [GAS] RSS feed through Google Reader, but I can't click through to the site, as the "sexy" in the URL causes our netnanny to classify the site as PORN.

    I am in IT, and I think the policies at our company are a bit draconian. They exist for a reason, though: someone at some time was caught spending far too much of their "on the clock" time at non-work related sites, so the response was to simply prevent as much as possible. So now, any site with streaming video, any site that is even loosely related to "games", and any site that even might be sex related is simply blocked.

    I disagree with the "punish everyone for one person's mistake" philosophy, but I can also see that management has better things to do with their time than walk around checking up on everyone constantly. *shrug* What do you do?

  3. I am a sysadmin at my company (viewing this from gReader while at the office). In our case, the bulk of social media sites are definitely blocked simply because we've had issues in the past with employees (primarily hourly employees) wasting time when they should be working.

    While we do have some clearly defined rules in our acceptable use policy (no social media, no shopping unless it's work related etc) I try pretty hard to be as unrestrictive as possible. Basically, I leave it unblocked until we have an abuser that ruins it for everyone. And even in those cases when I have to actively block something, it's a result of upper management not wanting to actually set an example and punish the offending employee. Why address the issue directly when I can just add another entry to my OpenDNS filters right? *grumbles*

  4. I am viewing at work and do quite a bit of "non-work" related surfing at work. Most social sites are banned, but twitter is open game. Also, surprisingly enough, hulu and youtube are both open, so I normally have videos playing while I'm doing other work on my computer. I claim it helps me concentrate…

  5. I work in IT and I think my company has gone way too far in the blocking subject. I'm a software developer and in my job I sometimes need to look up problems on the web, which I sometimes can't due to blockings.

    I can't even use google images!!!

    I know that there should be some restrictions, but if they apply, they should for all employees. I agree with sexually related sites and social comunities (facebook and hi5).

    Just to let you know, there's always a way to bypass the security. Me and my co-workers find ways of doing "the illegal"…

    It's sorry that we have to become shady in our job just to have access to some stuff on the web… But that's what rules are for! ;)

  6. I work as a help desk associate for a Northern California medical group. Our traffic is monitored and we're bound by the same Websense filters as the users we support. I don't know what the enterprise guys upstairs see but I've got an SSH tunnel going to my home computer and I'm using it as a proxy. I was questioned about it once. I just said we sometimes get doctors with Macs calling in and I use the tunnel to VNC into my Mac at home that way I can walk them through things. I think if someone can bypass policies, let them. If they're smart enough to know how, they probably know how to keep the network safe. BTW, I'm at work right now.

  7. I sysadmin for a number of companies. Receptionists get to do pretty much what they want as long as it does not make any sounds. Income generators (e.g. lawyers) get fired if their productivity is not high enough, so they self-regulate.

    The people in between are always the question. Some people (like me) just fire employees that get caught doing non-work with a company computer. Others restrict what they can and live with what they can't (as in Brian's case).

    Oh, about Alex's tunnel, it not only violates the acceptable use policy, it might violate HIPAA. I am an expert witness on a case where someone did that sort of thing it is not going well for the tunneler.

    Here is someone who is really in trouble over company policy:

  8. Yup, every place that has a proxy or firewall in place, I've put a hole in it for me in the first week. Blatent policy breach. Can't stop the information, if ppl want, they're going to get it.

  9. My last place of employment went from "Yeah, use the internet as much as you have time for, as long as you don't neglect your show. In fact, get an email address so you can broadcast it and take requests" to "No internet use beyond checking the weather forecast" to no internet access at all. Then they took the games off the local terminals, then forbade bringing books to work, which made an eight-hour radio show seem like eternity.

    I'm so glad I quit that job!

  10. I have a lot of downtime in my job so spend a good portion of the day browsing the web, reading blogs in Google Reader, sometimes I'll catch up on an episode of Shortland Street even though we're not meant to stream anything. Everyone does it, and I'm friends with the IT manager so he knows I do it too.

    The lax internet policy is pretty much the only reason I'm still working there.

    The only site that some to mind (apart from the obvious porn etc) that is blocked is Trade Me. NZs version of Ebay.

    I would be reading this at work if today wasn't a public holiday.

  11. As an It manager, i do spend some of my time during the day, to surf, read my rss feeds, and sometimes go on facebook. I do restrict people as my administration tell me to, but in the other case, and like brian, i block site, only when there are abuses (as i try to not abuse myself).

  12. I read this @ work. No websites at all are blocked here. Most of the staff thinks we monitor what they watch and we keep that myth up by telling them they have a survey with IT at the end of the year if they watch too much pr0n at work. It's funny how easily people are scared :)

    Anyway, no blocks at all. Maybe not a very good idea, but everybody is working hard, so doing a bit of socializing during their breaks is ok I think.

  13. I AM the entire IT department! Ha!


    I'm a baby boomer and I'm the stay at home dad, so of course I read GAS at work. I cook and eat at work. I also sleep at work.


    Talk about your benies!

    The pay sucks. I do some offsite consultation though.

    It's sad(? good?) that my home network is larger than most of the clients I do have. Three desktops and three to five laptops at any one time. That doesn't include the case that I'm thinking about turning into a Home Server/NAS. Probably Home Server as I only have one Mac laptop to support, the rest are some version of Windows.

  14. I'm a graphic designer at an ad agency, so there are no blocks here (we have to research a wide variety of topics for projects) but it is frowned upon to spend too much time doing non-work stuff. The way I see it, as long as you're getting your work done properly and on time, who cares? I think its important to know what's going on in the world and be up to date on the latest information, especially in my industry.

  15. At my last job (I am self-employed now), my employer blocked all social networking sites. Didn't bother me because I didn't use those servces, aside from Linkedin, which wasn't blocked.

    But they also had an utterly STOOOPID policy of blocking all WEBMAIL access, too – Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, all of them – on the grounds that they were worried about "viruses." What was the result? People just used their corporate exchange-based email for personal stuff and all kinds of inappropriate and damaging stuff just came flooding in that way instead. The IT support guys all agreed with me that webmail accounts weren't any more damaging than viewing any other type of web content, but the corporate types had decided that web based email was bad and that was the end of the debate.

    Towards the end I figured out how to access Gmail through a backdoor Google URL that wasn't blocked (and technically still not in violation of the internet policy), but I think that policy was totally misguided.

    The IT policies were just the tip of the Iceberg. That was a bad place to work and is still a basketcase of a company. I'm glad I had the guys to finally walk away.

  16. IT policies have not changed as the times have. Anything new and interesting that pops seems to get blocked as soon as it starts getting a lot of hits through the corporate proxy at my work.

    I was able to hang out on myspace for a bit, but then jumped to facebook when myspace got blocked. Facebook, however, soon followed on the blocked list.

    with more and more co-workers on facebook and twitter and the like, blocked lists should flex a bit and unblock the sites you are trying to communicate with your friends/co-workers/family/relatives and continue to block the NSFW/malicious sites that the first are linking to.

  17. I used to work in emails all day, and I agree that if your work gets done on time and properly, what's the problem with doing a little surfing or chatting on the side? If there's enough bandwidth for everyone to do their work and you're not hogging it all by streaming pirated Twilight movies, you're golden. :D FB is actually designed so you can go do something else (like work, who knew!?) while the games do their boring-ash waiting crap.

  18. Where I work we have IT policies that actually hinder our workflow. For example downloads above 60 megabytes – banned. Working for consulting engineers, sets of drawings from other consultants can often exceed that limit, forcing us to download each individual drawing, rather than download one zip file. Quiet time consuming especially when there can be over 150 drawing to download. Similarly USB sticks are banned. In the pass it has affected the workflow. Once a client asked if I have a flash drive on me, I was like "yes", he was like "great, I'll put all this data you need on it, it's a few gig", and I had to be like, "our policies prevent us from plugging these in at our work", which meant he had to find someone with a DVD burner, burn a DVD, give me the DVD, and then I had to take the DVD back to work, find someone with a DVD drive and then get them to save the data onto the file server.

  19. My manager and i both stream radio over internet and network. We also have a mini that is streaming jazz on the showroom floor. our internet policy is so lax that we can surf porn, play on craigslist, or even play online poker if we want to. I am IT at my job as well as bookkeeper. needless to say I have my hands full without having to answer the bellow of "internets not working".

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