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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Firm targets 'cyber skivers'
Man at computer
Actis says companies are losing thousands of pounds
A company has launched a system designed to improve internet security and detect "cyber skiving" by employees.

Actis Technology's system aims to give employers the power to monitor how their staff have been using the internet to ensure confidential material does not fall into the wrong hands.

Actis said its system also offered companies the chance to pinpoint where time and money had been wasted.

Recent research has suggested that about a third of internet activity at work does not relate to business and that large companies have been losing millions in reduced productivity.

Invisible loss

Colin Rose, chief operating officer at the Glasgow-based company, said: "If you actually calculate up the approximate cost, including overheads, it comes out at around 15 per hour.

Hands on keyboard
The system monitors patterns of internet usage
"Say you spend an hour or two per day surfing for personal material. If you've got 300 people in a company, you're talking about a quarter of a million pounds of wasted resources per year which is a kind of invisible loss."

Mr Rose said the new system worked by monitoring employees' patterns of internet usage and highlighted where the company's policy of approved use had been breached.

He said: "We're able to configure our system to match your acceptable use policy requirements so that it will report exceptions to that acceptable use policy."

Clear policies

Sheila Gunn, employment law expert at solicitors Shepherd and Wedderburn, said "cyber skiving" was all part of a long-established corporate tradition.

She said: "Employees can waste employers' time by reading the paper under the desk, by chatting to friends on the phone or indeed cyber skiving.

"It's certainly as big an issue today, if not bigger, because of internet and e-mail, than it's ever been before."

Ms Gunn said the best way for companies to deal with the problem was to set down clear policies and get employees to agree to them.

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See also:

16 Jun 99 | The Company File
Sacked for surfing the Net
24 May 99 | The Economy
Firms warned over e-mail 'minefield'
02 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
New technology makes work harder
10 Jun 99 | The Economy
Internet a multi-billion dollar economy
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