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The World Cup is coming: 27 days, 32 teams, 66 matches and 99 hours of soccer. A dream come true every four years for soccer fans around the world. As is always the case with major sporting events – from March Madness in the US, to the global Olympics – sporting enthusiasts will be keen to watch as much of the action as possible.

This World Cup is no exception and employees in your organization will want to “tune in” to watch some the matches during office hours. Whether they want to check the results and group standings or catch part of their favorite team’s match, your network is going to suffer during the World Cup. The impacts on your network will come from many quarters, and how you deal with that will depend on how well-prepared you are in advance. Let’s see how the World Cup can impact your network’s security and performance.

Bandwidth

With plenty of websites offering streaming video of matches, highlights on YouTube and Vimeo, and newscasts with the top games of the day, soccer fans will have be spoilt for choice. HD video can use 4Mbps per user, and even streams with conservative resolution can consume 600Kbps per user. How many people streaming content in your office will it take to use up all your bandwidth? Very few!

Malware

Phishing emails have already started making the rounds and the number will increase as the competition kick-off nears. With subject lines varying from “Top Ten Goals” or “You Won’t Believe How The Goalie Saved The Day” or the “Coach Gets Red Card… See Why Here” they come with attachments to open and links to click on. And that is bad news. It takes, on average, less than 24 hours for a notable event to become the topic of some email campaign attempting to exploit it. With almost 100 new websites hosting malware per day appearing online, the odds are against you unless you have adopted measures to reduce the risks.

Productivity

Some companies in the US just gave up during the Final Four, and assumed nothing would get done. Imagine trying that approach during the month of the World Cup? Any soccer fan’s productivity is bound to suffer if they have access to online content, but your IT team’s productivity will suffer even more as they fight to contain some malware, or work to identify who is using all the bandwidth that is causing the company website to go offline.

What can you do?

There are several things you can do, with varying degrees of success. And some will not make you the most likeable person in the company – from top, down… You could disconnect the Internet completely, but that is not realistic no matter how tempting it may be. Try this and you’ll wish helpdesk had no phones. You could try to firewall off every single place where your users could access content… good luck with that. Or you could just send out a memo asking users to behave. I’m sure that will help immensely…

Or, you could do some things that actually help. Set up a couple of machines or televisions in the canteen and stream / screen the matches there. Employees can take a coffee break and check in from time to time to see who’s playing and winning.

The next step would be to use some form of web monitoring and web security software, like GFI WebMonitor. With this particular software you can:

  1. Effectively block sites hosting malware
  2. Set bandwidth limits on streaming media for all employees to protect critical business applications
  3. Restrict access to sites for lunch time or after hours
  4. Block access to all streaming media for all users, and permit only a limited number of systems in shared areas.

Most people in your organization will want to join the fun and watch a few games at the office. You can either take a hardline approach (not recommended), do nothing all (you’ll be loved but not by your IT colleagues), or you can be shrewd and play the game too. Defend your position, and score goals with everyone, by simply using technology to do the job. Like a good manager, you need to have a game plan, be tactically aware, and execute it at the right time. Web monitoring software is your key to lots of World Cup excitement and very few headaches.