Firewalls just aren't cutting it these days. Or more accurately, perhaps they are cutting it too well; as in cutting off more access than necessary and to the point of disrupting workflow and demoralizing employees.
True! Businesses need some way to protect their data from being uploaded to the www (world wide web = wild, wild, west).
True! Businesses don't need their employees slacking on company time sending pieces of flair to their 972 friends on Facebook.
True! Businesses don't need their employees visiting high risk sites exposing their hard drives and perhaps the whole network to spyware, malware, viruses, worms, phishers and spammers (have I left any cyber-bad guys out here?).
Also true! Businesses don't need to miss out on opportunities to connect with clients and colleagues through social networking sites. In fact, many businesses would do well to have a presence on the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn.
Also true! Businesses need the 20-something workers. They're cheap, they're the future of your business in terms of human capitol and they are more tech savvy and will think of ways to leverage the Internet that you never dreamed of. So, lighten up and give them a listen when they make a case not to filter out social networking sites and other Web 2.0 solutions.
A new survey of primarily IT professionals put out by TechRepublic shows 71% of companies block social networking sites. These companies are primarily enterprise level organizations or the bigger end of small to midsize businesses. So how does this apply to you? Think of it as an opportunity for the scrappy smaller, more nimble business. The big dogs are obviously still stuck in one size fits all mandates from on high. You have options.
I leave you with one.
Check out Palo Alto Networks. It's an example of a network security company creating Firewall and software filters to a smarter level. It's less about filtering out categories of sites or specific IP addresses. Rather, it's a more seamless approach to giving employees the access they need while filtering out the bad stuff; like certain apps, the ability to upload data, etc.
Last updated: Jul 22, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio