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Survey: Americans OK with Web Monitoring at Work

on March 8, 2012

GFI Software recently conducted a survey of 620 US workers, and a significant majority of them do not consider employers’ use of web monitoring software an invasion of privacy.

Survey respondents split almost evenly about whether or not their employer uses a web monitoring solution, with only about 10% unsure if such software is being used in their workplace. Contrary to what some employers may think, the survey found that 81% of respondents say they do not consider the use of web monitoring software an invasion of employee privacy.

While we had considerably lower responses from other regions, this view of web monitoring software is not limited to just US employees. 36 workers in the UK responded to our survey, and 77% of them do not view web monitoring as an invasion of their privacy either. The same went for Canada and Australia, where more than 80% of 55 and 42 respondents, respectively, overwhelming say they too do not view web monitoring software as a breach of their privacy at work.

This viewpoint not only spans geographies, but age groups as well. Nearly 87% of respondents older than 60, 78% between the ages of 40 and 59, and 72% younger than 40 do not view web monitoring at work as a privacy issue.

Deploying Web Monitoring Software

An increasing number of employers recognize how solutions like GFI WebMonitor can help strengthen their web security, better control their network bandwidth and track all online activity occurring on their network. However, establishing an Internet usage policy and then deploying a web monitoring solution to enforce it is a sensitive issue for many employers. Why? Because many fear negative reactions from employees, who may feel their privacy is being invaded. However, GFI Software’s survey results suggest that employees are much more receptive to web monitoring software than many employers may assume.

Remember that communication is key to the successful rollout of any software application, especially one with the potential to impact how every employee works and accesses the Internet every day. When deploying web monitoring software:

  • Make sure your Internet usage policy is complete and clearly defines what is and what is not acceptable for employees with Internet access
  • Communicate with employees and make sure they understand your Internet usage policy and the role that your web monitoring software plays in not only enforcing it but also protecting the company from various online threats
  • Invite feedback and modify your policy and your web monitoring rules when appropriate


Survey Methodology

This survey, conducted in February 2012, was sent to recipients of GFI Software’s VIPRE Security News newsletter. More than 1,600 people responded. More than 800 respondents described themselves as currently employed and were asked to share their opinion of employers’ use of web monitoring software.  This was not a scientific study.


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Clyde O'maha March 9, 201212:01 pm

IF you don’t have anything to hide then why worry about web monitoring at work. This is what I told to my more than 50 employees in one of our company orientations. I have been an office manager for several years now. I began installing web monitoring software three years ago when I noticed my employees’ productivity slowed down for five consecutive months. The move would not only make all the staff productive, but it will also secure all the company’s resources – including the employees – my organization’s most valuable asset.

At first there was a resentment by most of my employees. Their main reason for this is the intrusion of their privacy. But with time and proper explanation, it all worked out in the end.

Sarah Martin March 10, 201210:08 am

These figures sound a bit surprising but they probably prove that if you have clear rules about web monitoring at work and you don’t abuse the power this software gives you, there can be peace and understanding in the office. Maybe the sample of respondents would differ from what the general population would say (i.e. I presume recipients if your newsletter are more biased in favor of Web monitoring and security in general) but still the data speaks for itself.

David Loeb March 14, 201212:38 am

The bottom line is that when you’re in the workplace, you are subject to certain adjustments to privacy, and when using company bandwidth and resources, you have to be mindful of how you are using those resources. It’s like carrying yourself in a respectable manner while driving a company-branded vehicle or wearing a uniform. What you do on the internet can be traced back to your company’s IP address.

Doris Peterson March 16, 20127:01 am

Well they should be. These days, work is scarce. I would take anything even if the employer will web-monitor my work. However, the company should set some boundaries on what and where they will monitor, what type of system or application will be monitored, and when they will be monitored (the duration, is it only on working hours, does it include lunch breaks or rest periods, etc).

For me, web monitoring and privacy issue are not synonymous. It depends on the employee being monitored. There are some who feel restricted and subsequently feel unproductive when they’re monitored. But there are some employees who get motivated by it. I’m for the latter part. You will get used to it.

Jason S April 3, 20125:25 pm

I’m as big a privacy zealot as you could ever find, but using the web at work constitutes using *their* network resources. Home monitoring is one thing, but companies have a right to know what their own network resources are being used for as they are the ones providing them to the employee. As long as terms of use are clearly defined, then even pro-privacy advocates like myself shouldn’t be able to complain.