I now find it impossible to say the words 'Big Brother' without grimacing. Once synonymous with the clandestine security machinations of governments and security services, it's now the title of a piece of boring goldfish-bowl TV whose ratings suggest that people have too much time on their hands.
However, the success of this TV trivia is merely mirroring a strange new phenomenon in UK companies, where covert monitoring of employees in the workplace is all the rage. As such, it has become a hit in the security technology arena, and the channel has already started to exploit this surge of paranoia.
A new breed of security software that ignores the external threat by concentrating purely on how employees are using company technology is fast becoming a must-have for many businesses.
Unlike the widespread popularity of security products such as firewalls and antivirus software, these tools are not a global phenomenon. In fact, one senior marketing executive at Network Associates told me: "Companies in the UK and Ireland can't seem to get enough of this kind of software. It is not nearly as widespread in the US."
Whether it is web enforcement or email monitoring tools, the UK workplace is turning into a big, profitable goldfish bowl.
In many ways it makes perfect sense considering that a Department of Trade and Industry survey indicated that 75 per cent of all security breaches are internal. That said, it is the 'loss in productivity' argument that is making companies that were lax about security software sit up and listen.
The FUD factor
Market watcher IDC claims that up to 40 per cent of staff use of the internet is not business related. The old FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) arguments are no longer enough to shift security solutions. The FUD factor only really works when innocently titled viruses like Melissa and Love Bug run rampant across the globe, causing havoc.
But show a company a decent return on investment (ROI) figure and you stand a far better chance of walking away with a cheque and a smile.
Pornography, Wimbledon, booking holidays and generally playing around on the web are costing companies a fortune, not to mention opening them up to legal proceedings if the content hidden on their systems is of an unsavoury nature.
Security distributor FutureLink, which resells monitoring software, decided to test it out on its own business and found that 144 hours a fortnight were being wasted by staff abusing internet access. Over a year it's a lot of downtime, and companies that were not aware of it now have smart resellers offering to show them just how common it is and how much it costs.
People might complain, but companies are not looking at just the smut on their networks, they're looking at the bottom line. Resellers have been quick to catch on, replacing the doom and gloom approach to selling these solutions with productivity and ROI research. There's not much to think about when the productivity loss is £100,000 a year and the solution is £5000.
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View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
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