Senator Grassley – The NSF’s Worse Nightmare?

Last year Senator Grassley launched a probe to investigate reports that the National Science Foundation violated federal laws by approving use of taxpayer money for “unallowable expenses,” including alcohol, lobbying and extravagant parties.

A few years prior, the same Senator Grassley had his sights set on the NSF after hearing reports of the inordinate amount of employee time spent on explicit Internet activity.  Reports indicate that one NSF senior official was discovered to have spent 20 percent of his day “viewing sexually explicit images and engaging in sexually explicit online ‘chats’ with various women.”  Another employee was reported as having video chats to enable his on-the-job sexting.  The NSF has since implemented Web Filtering software.

The Web is only one aspect of the Internet and so Web Filtering is only one aspect of managing employee Internet access. A complete employee Internet control solution will also include in depth Internet monitoring capabilities. Not only should organization’s be able to prevent access to certain categories of Web sites, they need to be able to discern habits regarding employee email use, chat, IM, newsgroup postings and file transfers. For those that are concerned with security compliance and identity theft, Internet monitoring software is more appropriate. Compliance and Security Officers are more concerned with leaked information rather than inbound communications being blocked.

Internet monitoring software allows employees to send files or e-mail, for example, and then captures data from these transmissions to provide reports of Internet usage activity. A complete employee Internet access monitoring solution will allow recovery of the text of these e-communications and set audit flags that are triggered when certain risk criteria are met. In depth Internet monitoring solutions will not only monitor the content of e-mail but will also audit and control the real time communications of e-mail attachments like word documents and spread sheets.
In addition to email monitoring and filtering, robust employee Internet usage solutions will provide chat monitoring and IM monitoring. The Internet monitoring solution should be able to recreate the content of the chat session as well as let you create filtering rules to block inappropriate content transmission as well as define acceptable contact lists.

Posted in Cyber Security.