What Kind of Images Are on Their PCs?

You might be surprised how many PCs on your company network have explicit material stored on them. If your company is anything like the audit numbers from computer-scanning firm PixAlert's recent study, then 1 out of every 4 computes includes pornography.

The company just released numbers based on the last nine months of its audits at some 125 business and public sector networks. But although 25.8 percent of the 10,000 computers scanned included pornography or what PixAlert calls "other inappropriate images", the problem wasn't solely limited to the PC hard drive. Also affected were 12.4 percent of email accounts and 5.4 percent of fileshare servers.

So what does this all mean? Is it that the common office work is over-sexed, clicking on risque photos when he should be emailing his accounts in Des Moines? Are they simply being forwarded email from coworkers, clients, family and friends with a little "hubba, hubba" humor?

That's not always the case, says PixAlert. Of the inappropriate images, almost half (46.8 percent) involved full nudity or sexual activity, and .3 percent were of an illegal nature. Most citations (45.2 percent) were from emails, and some 35.5 percent sent internally among coworkers.

According to Andy Churley, the marketing director for the company whose audits were tabulated, the problem is that employees are simply ignoring IT and corporate rules and that systems attempting to purge these messages from email servers aren't always foolproof.

"It is clear that a significant number of employees continue to ignore corporate policies and in some cases are going to extraordinary lengths to bypass protection systems in order to obtain and distribute inappropriate material," said Churley. "Corporate officers wrongly assume that boundary protection systems stop all digital pornography from entering the organisation but, in PixAlert's experience, almost all corporations will have a significant amount of pornography on their networks."

What you can do:
- Institute clear corporate IT assets rules
- Employ scanning devices to prevent such images from making it to the network
- Scan business PCs for inappropriate content