Business Technology

UK firms in danger of IT failures as 75 per cent of staff use internet for personal activities

4 min read

21 November 2014

Former deputy editor

British businesses risk facing IT damages, according to research from computer solutions provider GFI software, as 40 per cent of employees say failures have been caused by completing personal activities on company devices.

The direct impact is caused as companies provide computers and laptops to employees for business use, though 75 per cent of staff admit to visiting non-work related websites with the equipment, which has resulted in malware and other problems.

It’s common for companies to introduce their own bespoke services or promote existing solutions to boost productivity, but half of Brits say they use personal cloud storage platforms, such as as Dropbox, for sharing corporate data and documents.

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A majority 90 per cent claim to have some understanding of company computing procedures and follow it to an extent, but 8.5 per cent totally disregard policies on approved usage, the report shows, while six per cent have had to ask the IT department to repair damages after accessing pornography, torrents and other questionable material.

Top uses for work computers at the office and home:

At work

Shopping – 40 per cent

Access personal social media – 38 per cent

Look for a new job – 21.5 per cent

Work for a 2nd job/home business – 21 per cent

Look at NSFW content – 20 per cent

Online gaming – 19 per cent

Gambling – 9 per cent

Online dating – 8 per cent

Torrents – 7.5 per cent

Away from work

Shopping – 57 per cent

Access personal social media – 53 per cent

Look for a new job – 47 per cent

Online gaming – 41.5 per cent

Work for a 2nd job/home business – 33.5 per cent

Gambling – 24 per cent

Torrents – 17 per cent

Look at NSFW content – 17 per cent

Online dating – 15.5 per cent

Despite running the risks, 42 per cent are worried about how companies can monitor their personal use and 63 per cent believe iOS, Android and Windows tablets can be under surveillance in the same way they desktop PCs can.

Sergio Galindo, general manager of GFI Software, said: “Data security and integrity is a big challenge for companies as a result of the widespread movement away from desktop computers to laptops.

“Since laptops are usually brought home, they frequently get used out-of-hours for both work and non-work activities. Without clear policies and guidelines in place on approved personal use boundaries – backed up with technology to limit access to the most challenging parts of the internet – the dividing line between work tool and personal device, can quickly become blurred.”

In the event they were to die, the data shows 21 per cent of people wouldn’t want their family or colleagues to see their web browser history or content stored on the device without the chance to “sanitise their computer first”.

And if employment were to end, 60 per cent would grab personal files and 35 per cent would snatch company files, data and customer lists, though 27 per cent wouldn’t take anything.

Galindo added: “There are clear arguments in favour of letting staff use company computers for a degree of personal activity. It’s good for morale, productivity and it’s just common sense. However, people still need to remember that at the end of the day it is not their device, and neither is the company data on it. 

“It is surprising how many people forget that and our survey underscores just how true this is. You would not go racing around a track in a company car, even though they let you take it home for an evening and pay for the petrol or diesel. The same principle applies to a company computer. Just because you can use it to access questionable content, doesn’t mean it is appropriate to do so.”