In a recent survey conducted by GFI Software, 69.9% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) said they used web monitoring and web filtering solutions in their business. When GFI asked these SMEs why they chose to invest in the technology, nine in 10 said they did so to block offensive sites, to stop malware infections from downloaded files and to prevent malware attacks from drive-by downloads. This shows that business are taking web security very seriously, and rightly so.

What makes it so important?

As social media sites have become part of most individuals’ everyday life, organizations need to keep an eye out for cyberslacking – as this means lost productivity, bandwidth hogging, as well as web security risks. Google Advisory, for example, recently announced that sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace are regular victims of malicious attacks. This means that every time an employee clicks on links or downloads material from one or multiple social networks, the corporate network is vulnerable to these web threats. The threats are real and GFI’s survey found that 65.4% of SMEs which did not use a web filtering or web security solution experienced malware or virus attacks via downloaded files.

How to protect your business without affecting employee morale

Blocking social media (and the Internet) completely is counterproductive because many business today use social media to promote their business – in fact, the most valuable brands in the world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial performance and deep social media engagement. Besides, if used moderately, allowing employees to check their social media profiles for short periods may increase productivity as it gives them the opportunity to take a short break without needing to leave their workstation.

This is where comprehensive web monitoring, web filtering and web security enter the scene. While web monitoring controls web activity (updating you with reports in case of employee Internet abuse), web filtering and web security prevent malicious downloads and malware from infecting the network. A good web security tool, using multiple antivirus engines, for example, will scan all web downloads for malicious files thus protecting your network.

Ultimately no single technology solution can guarantee total security. Yet it is imperative that you try to put as many measures in place as possible in order to counter the growing number of web threats and lower the risk of a successful attack by investing in a combination of software and hardware, as well as having a good Internet Acceptable Usage Policy which informs employees about the dangers of web browsing as well as what they are allowed and not allowed to do when using the company’s computers and Internet access.