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Most business directors in the UK are unaware of the real cost of the misuse of computers, even though they recognise it is a key business issue.

Research from network management specialist, Protek, has revealed that many organisations do not understand the risks to their own business, nor the legal and financial penalties that can arise from the abuse of the internet by employees.

Protek warns that companies are placing themselves at risk and could face spiralling costs. The company believes that improper use of e-mail is perhaps the greatest problem. Businesses are learning the hard way that careless or malicious e-mails can result in the disclosure of highly sensitive information, and contain obscene or defamatory material. As the liability for employees’ activities usually lies with the employer, this can lead to prosecution. 

The company has reacted to these results by launching a non-technical guide on network security. ‘Safe Passage’ gives an overview of common IT security issues, as well as advice to counter problems. The guide also contains a brief self-assessment questionnaire designed to shed light on likely flaws in computer use policy.

“Technology is changing the way most organisations do business but it is also opening up a whole range of new threats,” said Geoff Butcher, managing director at Protek. “High profile cases of sensitive computer misuse have shown that if companies don’t get network security and policies right, they are open to legal action and financial losses, not to mention huge dents in their reputations.”

“Organisations should minimise the opportunity for computer misuse, while individuals should accept the responsibility of resisting such temptations,” said Professor Simon Rogerson, director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University. 

Protek is an expert in network security. It works with Government and the military as well as many large enterprises to develop solutions that provide total network security.

Protek is a global supplier of innovative solutions that manage applications and services for next generation service providers. They are deployed throughout the telecommunications, finance and banking, health, utilities and government sectors. Protek’s customers include NTL, Teracom, Telenor, United Utilities, Citibank and Nycomed Amersham.

Protek is headquartered in the UK with offices in Norway and the US. It has representative offices in South Africa and Hong Kong. Its partners include Lucent, Object Design, Vertel, Comptel Oy, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corporation.

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