Workers Fib about Office Online Time

April 28, 2004 ( - Employees may not be completely forthcoming about how much time they spend surfing the Web at work, a new survey found.

Websense, Inc., a provider of employee Internet management (EIM) software, said its 2004 Web@Work study, found that employees only admit to spending two hours per work week on the net for personal reasons. At the same time, however, IT managers believe that number to be more than six hours weekly.

The survey also found that many IT managers are either not aware of, or do not fully understand the risks from emerging Internet threats such as spyware, unsanctioned instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing and Web-based viruses such as MyDoom. Nearly 95% of IT managers were confident that their current antivirus software is able to stop viruses from attacking their company’s network, yet two-thirds reported that their company had been hit by a Web-based virus.

Survey results also included:

  • 51% of employees said they spend between one and five hours per week doing personal Web surfing at work, averaging two hours per week.
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of employees surveyed have access to a high-speed Internet connection at work, while only approximately a third have a high-speed connection at home.
  • Approximately 17% of employees admit to using instant messaging (IM) at work; and of those, 37% have either sent or received file attachments via IM while at work. Interestingly, almost two-thirds (64%) of companies do not have corporate-sanctioned instant messaging, according to IT managers.
  • Men tend to engage more in personal surfing at work than women. Some 64% of men admitted to accessing non-work related Web sites during work hours versus 55% of women. Not only that, but men are two times more likely than women to visit chat rooms or message boards during work hours, and they are also two times more likely than women to visit mp3 sites.
  • Some 22% of male employees said they had visited a porn site at work, while only 12% of women had done so. Some 13% of the male online porn visitors admitted it was intentional. Of the women that indicated they had visited a porn site at work, all of them said it was unintentional.
  • While only 2% of employees with access to the Internet said they have accessed online hacking tools at work, one-third of IT managers (34%) said an employee has launched a hacking tool within their network.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Websense, Inc. Five hundred U.S. employees (ages 18 and over), who were employed full-time for companies with at least 100 employees, were interviewed by telephone by between February 23 and March 19, 2004. A total of 350 U.S. information technology (IT) managers were surveyed online between February 24 and March 14, 2004 Last month 500 employees and 350 IT managers of organizations with at least 100 employees were polled on their Web and software application usage in the workplace.