Report: Travel Sites Blocked More Often Than Porn

Stephen Yagielowicz
LOS ANGELES — A startling report released at Infosec Europe 2008 reveals that travel and social-networking sites are more likely than porn sites to be blocked by companies that regulate their employees' Internet access.

According to the Infosec website, "Infosecurity Europe is Europe's most comprehensive convergence of information security professionals. It addresses today's strategic and technical issues in an unrivaled education program and showcases the most diverse range of new and innovative products and services from over 300 of the top suppliers on the show floor."

The UK Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform surveyed 300 UK companies for its biannual IT security survey.

After travel and social-networking sites, the report rounded out the top three most blocked categories of websites with personal webmail sites following close behind.

This eagerness of corporate IT departments to focus worker productivity while limiting employer liability doesn't seem to extend to what is traditionally thought of as the province of corporate filtering: gambling and pornography sites.

"Gambling and adult sites are the most obvious genres to be banned in the workplace," said Neil Hammerton, European vice president at Webroot, which commissioned the research. "They are also the most socially stigmatized, and it seems that these areas are now relatively self-policing."

Hammerton was quick to reveal where workers are wasting their time.

"It seems that travel and webmail are up there with social networking in terms of drains on time at work." Hammerton said. "These sites are clearly less stigmatized in the workplace, which appears to indicate why they have overtaken the obvious choices in terms of which are the most frequently blocked."

Employer concern over wasted man-hours isn't the only motivator for blocking these sites, however, as more than half of the surveyed companies believe that visits to social-networking sites can compromise security.

According to the report, 38 percent of UK businesses currently block selected websites from employees, with the figure rising to more than 80 percent of larger organizations.

Less than half of those companies surveyed record their employees' web surfing histories — a number which rises to 86 percent of larger companies.

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