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How to Plan, Create and Implement Internet Access Policy on a Network

This is a guest post by Jeremy Pullicino about how to plan, create and implement Internet Access Policy in a company.
Finding the right method to limit Internet access isn’t simple. When done properly, limiting internet access will protect the company from users hogging bandwidth, productivity loss due to cyber-slacking, and security risks such as malware and virus infections. However, if you limit internet access incorrectly it will hinder productivity, reduce employee morale and introduce new security risks to your network.

In this article I will outline the major steps a system administrator needs to take when limiting Internet access in his company.

Step 1: Implement Internet access monitoring.

The first thing you need to do when you want to limit Internet access is to understand how the Internet is being used by your employees. When you monitor Internet access you should be looking out for the following metrics:

- The sites users are browsing.

- How much time they are spending online.

- The bandwidth they are consuming.

- The files they are downloading.

Different employees have different Internet usage patterns which are based on their personal habits and the jobs they perform. You need to weed out the abuse whilst at the same time recognize the legitimate behavior.

Step 2: Draft an Internet usage policy for your company.

Now that you have insight into how Internet is being used, you can begin drafting an Internet usage policy.

When writing a policy, you want to keep the following in mind:

- The policy should be straightforward and unambiguous.

- Policies must not restrict legitimate Internet usage.

- Responsibilities of your staff must be clearly highlighted.

Also keep in mind that policies need to change over time, so ensure that a good feedback mechanism is in place so that your users can communicate to you where the policy is working and where it might be hindering their work.

Step 3: Educate staff on the new policies.

If you work with Step 2 as I recommended, your Internet Usage Policy should not go into unnecessary detail and must be easy to read and understand. Your users are more likely to follow the policy correctly if they understand it. To help them understand it better and to highlight the important parts, you should organize training for your staff.

Here are my recommendations for training:

- Users are always nervous about change so put effort into listening to their concerns.

- Let your users know that this policy will protect both themselves and their company.

- Ensure that they understand the consequences of policy violation.

- It is important to use feedback from training to further refine your policies.

Once staff is aware of their responsibilities and understand why it’s so important for the company to limit Internet access, you are ready to tighten the belt and lock down their Internet activities.

Step 4: Implement Web Filters to enforce your policies.

This stage is seen as the hardest, however if the policy and training was done properly, this stage should be a breeze, especially if you chose the correct software solution.

Below I list a few essential features for limiting Internet access:

- Category based policies for easier policy management.

- Time-based policies that can be enforced differently depending on the time of day.

- Bandwidth throttling capabilities to prevent users from saturating Internet bandwidth.

- Antivirus and anti-malware support, especially for downloaded files.

Furthermore, ensure you can evaluate the software for some days with your own policies and on your own network before you buy it.

To limit Internet access should not be a daunting task. If done properly, it can be an interesting and fruitful exercise. Choosing the right software is essential and having a solid Internet usage policy will greatly facilitate your task.

This guest post was provided by Jeremy Pullicino on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. Read more on how to limit internet access.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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