Does Your Business Need an Internet Use Policy?
The short answer: Yes!
The internet has revolutionised the way we live, but even after years of its existence, sometimes the boundaries still aren’t clear when it comes to what’s okay when using technology at work. Scarily, many businesses may not have any guidelines in place for internet use at work, or if they do, they may be outdated and lack relevance to how it is actually used.
We think it’s essential for all businesses to have a strong, up-to-date internet usage and security policy that outlines the company’s expectations, to be followed by all employees. It’s not just about whether it’s okay to use your phone at work too – internet use guidelines help to keep your business safe from cyber-attacks and data breaches, protect your reputation, and ensure that your staff are working at maximum productivity – what more could you want!
There are many things you can include, which will of course depend on the size and nature of your business.
As a starting point, a good internet usage policy should include the following:
Email, internet & telephone use
What does your company believe is appropriate use of these? For example, can your work email be used to sign up for newsletters and websites, or is it okay to use your work phone to make a personal call? Are these being monitored?
Include guidelines around downloading software – whether approval is needed and how to obtain this. Also include information on how to keep your systems safe through regular updates (and if you need help with this, get in touch with us!)
Outline the do’s and don’ts of accessing business devices such as a work laptop outside of work, and how to safely transport and store any devices. Also, cover how to protect data stored on portable hard drives or USBs.
Discuss expectations around social media and work, whether this should be limited to breaks, and also suitable access methods (e.g. whether personal devices are allowed, or no social media on work computer/WiFi etc).
Furthermore, include rules about mentioning the company or work on social media, and reinforce that employees are liable for anything said online. It’s also a good idea to remind your team that employees are not authorised to speak on behalf of the company unless given permission, and include instructions on who appropriate representatives are – typically media reps or senior management.
Passwords & safety
It’s not great to still be using the same password you created for your first ever Hotmail account – but people have average of 92 accounts associated with a single email address! To help reduce this, include guidelines on how often passwords should be updated and tips for creating secure passwords.
Recommendations for staying safe when opening unknown attachments and dodgy websites are also useful.
Outline how and when to report an IT incident, and who should be alerted (hint: your IT company!)
Immediate action should be taken on critical incidents so these can be responded to and resolved asap.
In addition to general guidelines, be sure to include any information which is specific to your business.
To ensure that these guidelines actually get followed, involve your team and ask for their feedback throughout the process of designing and implementing them. Once it’s in place make sure employees read the policy, and keep a record of their acknowledgement. Finally, it’s better to gradually tighten up the rules over time rather than going in full steam ahead straight away, and make sure any changes are communicated to staff before being put into action!
Do you have an internet usage policy at your company? Is there anything that you wish you could change about it?
Let us know, we’d love to help out!