Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis the season

Ah, the snow is coming down in our neck of the woods and the malls and stores all have extended hours for shopping. Tomorrow is a big day on the internet called Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) where lots of people go online and start their holiday shopping instead of being in the stores on Black Friday.

If you're trapped at work and want to shop, it sounds like a great deal. However, be certain to check with your IS staff if you're not sure (or if your boss hasn't reminded you) of your organization's acceptable internet use policy.

Most companies have Acceptable Use policies (or AUPs) for a number of reasons. One, it sets up a code of conduct for how you will use the internet at work. Rule of thumb: normally, if your internet use is for business use, or can be justified for business use, it's normally okay. Another item to look for: many businesses allow employees to use the internet for personal reasons while on their breaks or lunch time.

Two, in many cases, when you sign an Acceptable Use agreement, you state that you will follow the guidelines or you can be disciplined or even terminated. A few examples of the quick and easy route to termination I've seen as an IT staffer: overuse of internet for non-business purposes and not doing your job, using the internet to run a side business during business hours and transmitting or receiving pornography.

Three, implementing acceptable use policies also helps alleviate the load on the network, so that you can do your normal business without having slowdowns due to everyone shopping or watching streaming video all day. Some companies use proxy servers and firewall software to enforce these rules on the network. The software can be simple or sophisticated, and can even tell your network staff how much time you're using and where you're going on the internet. If your organization doesn't want you going somewhere on the internet, the IT staff (or the firewall or proxy software) often blocks the offending site or sites.

So, what does this mean to you? Follow your organization's policy and use the internet as your organization deems fit. If your company lets you surf the internet on your lunch hour, have a blast shopping away!

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