Online Pornography Popping Up At Small Businesses
BY Matt Quinn
July 8, 2004 -- Next time you catch one of your employees or co-workers on an "adult" Web site, just remember that it may not be his fault.
A recent study found that 75 percent of people have accidentally found themselves on a pornography site where they'd rather not be. For this unlucky group, the main portals to such places are pop-up windows, misrepresented links, misspelled URLs and automatic links within emails, according to the survey conducted by Cerberian and SonicWall, Internet filtering and security providers.
A slip of the mouse hasn't been the cause of every visit: 16 percent of the 2,400 respondents - 1,677 of which worked at firms with 100 employees or less - have knowingly surfed pornography sites at work at least once.
While deceptive methods and curious minds might be leading some employees astray, most employers aren't doing anything to prevent them from going there. Sixty percent of respondents reported that their jobs don't have rules against personal Web surfing at work. On top of that, more than 50 percent reported their organizations didn't have any sort of filtering technology to prevent objectionable material from finding its way onto their computer screens.
When people have snooped on their office space cohabitants, they've found a variety of things, with 40 percent saying they've seen others on the previously mentioned porn sites, 32 percent witnessing someone scratching their gambling itch, 91 percent observing someone indulging their shopping addiction and 85 percent watching someone checking out a sports-related Web site.
These extracurricular activities certainly are a drain on productivity, but they're also offending co-workers. Pornography surfing bothered 68 percent of respondents, with 47 percent being moved enough to confront the perpetrator or reporting them to management. Gambling irked 59 percent of co-workers, while 35 percent objected to shopping online and 29 percent disapproved of catching up on the latest scores.
MATT QUINN contributes to the Wall Street Journal's corporate finance blog. He has also written extensively about banking and corporate finance for publications including Inc., American Banker, and Financial Week. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.