News flash: Users sometimes do things with their work computers that they’re not supposed to. Even when they know better. Even when they've specifically been told not to.
Right. In other news, rocks are hard and water is wet. Is this a surprise to anyone? But what could be a surprise is that we now know how many of them are committing these workplace computer transgressions.
According to a recent survey of 300 IT administrators, a whopping 92 percent see their users doing things on their work computers that they hadn't ought to be doing. What are some examples?
- Browsing social media websites—82 percent
- Opening inappropriate email attachments—57 percent
- Downloading games—52 percent
- Plugging in unauthorized USB devices—51 percent
- Plugging in unauthorized personal devices—50 percent
- Downloading illegally (e.g. pirating movies, music or software)—45 percent
- Looking for other jobs—39 percent
But some commentators didn’t see that 92 percent statistic as “whopping” at all.
“The only thing surprising about the resulting IT Admin Behavioral Study is that the company described the results as surprising—and that fact that only 92 percent of IT admins report troublesome habits among office workers using company computers,” writes Noreen Seebacher in CMSwire. “Are the other 8 percent of IT admins ignorant or just naïve?” She notes, however, that perceptions of “inappropriate” actions probably vary a lot between industries.
One also wonders how many IT administrators perform such activities themselves. Is it akin to “shadow IT,” where some of the worst offenders of running unauthorized software are IT users themselves?
The survey didn’t say how the IT administrators had observed their users doing these things, nor over what time period. For example, is this from walking the floor and seeing users do this, or from monitoring user behavior remotely? Do IT administrators answer “yes” when they see one user, over a period of five years, checking out Facebook or plugging in a USB? If that’s the case, one would expect the percentages to be higher.
Whatever the frequency and depth of the violations, they do appear to be causing trouble: 90 percent of the respondents said that they’ve witnessed problems with company equipment because of these inappropriate actions. These include:
- Viruses—77 percent
- Slow computers—74 percent
- Crashed computers—55 percent
- Mass popups—48 percent
- Inability to open email—33 percent
The worst part, however, might be the effect on the IT administrators themselves. First of all, 23 percent of IT workers say they put in between 10 to 20 extra hours in a given week because of these kinds of issues. In fact, 4 percent said that these problems have caused them to work more than 40 extra hours in a week—that is, 40 hours on top of their regular job.
Moreover, these sorts of problems apparently make IT administrators cranky. 70 percent said they feel frustrated, 60 percent said they feel angry, 32 percent said they feel discouraged, and 12 percent said they feel like quitting their job due to these user activities.
Fortunately, 94 percent of the IT administrators surveyed said there are things that could make them happy again. These include:
- Better security software—66 percent
- Using remote access software to fix problems—47 percent
- Disk cleanup software—44 percent
- Automatic backup solutions—40 percent
- The ability to telecommute—29 percent
Oddly, raises didn’t seem to make the list.