Wednesday 24 October 2018 10:07 am

Workplace monitoring is not a scary Big Brother, but a way to protect your business


Picture this: an incident occurs in your organisation and your trade secrets are exposed to competitors and the media. The ensuing scandal means senior executives resign, the share price drops, employee morale falls, and eventually jobs are put at risk.

This is not the stuff of TV thrillers, but is happening with increasing regularity to organisations worldwide.

Whether this threat stems from an external cyber attack exfiltrating data thanks to someone visiting an unsafe website, a malicious individual bent on theft or destruction, or a terrible mistake from an overworked employee, the results are the same.

Read more: How the machines can make your workplace more human

There is a solution available in workplace monitoring, but research from the Trades Union Congress has shown that this approach comes with a side order of employee fear and doubt.

Over half of the UK workers surveyed expressed worry about the effects of workplace monitoring. There remains an old misconception that bosses are tracking the websites we visit, or sending lists of minor transgressions to HR.

It’s time to overturn this misconception. Workplace monitoring is not about enforcing productivity or removing individualism. Employers are not after total mind control, and in the grand scheme of things don’t care how long you took for lunch or which entertainment sites you visit.

It’s all about protection – of people and data. We know that businesses need to have processes and solutions in place to protect their customers, intellectual property, and brand reputation. But they also have a duty of care to their employees. Monitoring and managing threats inside their organisation is a vital way to do this.

If companies can understand the human behaviour and intent behind an individual’s suspicious activity, they will avoid assumptions and act more appropriately, faster. A data breach can be caused by an accident, a deliberate act, or a device compromised by malware. But without monitoring, there is no context to properly examine and deal with the incident.

Hacked off

Let’s assume that your work computer is hacked. You’re not logged on, but the cyber criminals responsible for the breach are browsing your machine and accessing documents.

The ensuing damage could be swift and devastating. They could share or delete sensitive data, sell it on to third parties, or even hold it for ransom. This would all be happening using your credentials. At first glance, it looks like you’re culpable.

But organisations with sophisticated employee monitoring programs would not only be able to identify this type of activity the moment it occurred – they would be able to determine that this sort of behaviour is not normal for you.

It could automatically flag the problem to the security team, and immediately limit or withhold any further access to the network; it would do this all while maintaining your anonymity.

Only when a case needs investigation would your identity be revealed, in line with proper processes. In this way, not only is the organisation kept safe from a data disaster, but your reputation is protected too.

Protecting privacy

Workplace monitoring is a necessity for protecting both ourselves and our organisations from the growing risk of a cyber attack, keeping valuable assets and livelihoods secure.

By having these types of tools and processes in place to monitor the behaviour of people and the data they interact with, you can automatically stop bad things from happening without getting in the way of people’s jobs.

People give “Big Brother” a bad reputation, thinking only of George Orwell’s 1984, but your big brother can look out for you too.

When implemented correctly, these measures in can be a real force for good at the heart of our businesses.


Read more: Telegraph to remove workplace monitors