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Careless Census workers may lose Web privileges
Wednesday - 7/21/2010, 1:56pm EDT
Federal News Radio
Checking your Facebook page or browsing the Internet at work could be causing more than just procrastination. It could lead to serious security breaches.
A new policy at the Census Bureau allows managers to revoke Internet access for employees that repeatedly fail to follow security measures.
"I don't foresee it being something that's abused" says Tim Ruland, Chief Information Technology Security Officer at the Census Bureau. "I think it's going to be used very cautiously because, let's face it, it's an Internet world. It's an option. It's a management option. It's not something we're advocating...The manager needs to determine that. It's a risk-based decision."
He says his office does keep records of the amount of incidents associated with a particular employee. That also means tracking in-bound and out-bound traffic and worker use patterns. He will release this data to managers to help them make decisions, Ruland says, but he insists his office is "not the police."
Ruland says his office has to reimage 25-30 computers per month because of inappropriate surfing and use of social networking websites like Facebook. He says this creates significant productivity loss.
"When you have to reimage a PC, you're taking staff away from the IT directorate, but more importantly you're taking the ability of that individual to do their job," Ruland says.
In an attempt to respond to the growing cybersecurity problem, Ruland says his office has been working on a Web surfing handbook for new employees.
"We determined that there was a need to try and give something to somebody that they could have at their desk, that we could give them when they come in. Kind of a simple: ‘You're at the Census Bureau; this is what you should think about.'"
He says the first draft of the guide is almost complete. It will eventually be distributed to new employees at orientations along with a general IT security handbook that is already distributed.
"It's based on things that we're seeing: what they should worry about when they're going on Facebook, what they should worry about when they're going on the Web and doing their business or surfing," Ruland says.
Rachel Stevens is an intern with Federal News Radio.
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