In a highly critical Audit Commission report, it has been estimated that nearly 50% of all cases of IT abuse in the public sector was related to the downloading of pornography.
The survey, which covered 400+ organisations including schools, police, NHS, councils and firefighters follows a growing number of criminal cases of computer pornography in the public sector. Hundreds of civil servants and public sector staff have also been disciplined for downloading porn. The problem was almost negligible in 1997 but rose to 31% of reported IT abuse in 2001 then to 47% in 2004.
The report which covers IT abuse including theft, hacking, virus placement and use of illicit software was based on voluntary responses from IT Managers the incidents are thought to represent a fraction of actual computer abuse, with most cases unreported. Fire and Police accounted for some 19.5% of the 200 incidents reported.
Chris Hurford, head of IT security at the commission said Many managers do not pick up on it because unlike fraud, it is not obviously damaging the organisation.but it is time wasting, open to abuse as users start accessing more disturbing sites and open to theft of personal information. In another shock, officials investigating the internet use of their 140,000 staff discovered 2.3 million pages of pornography had been called up over 8 months this included 18000 images and sites involving child abuse.
Paul Irvine, director of communications at Bloxx Limited, the UK makers of internet filtering appliances that prevent internet abuse as well as work to prevent spyware and viruses commented - There is no excuse for this the solutions are here today to stop internet abuse. With second generation competitors such as Bloxx offering multi stage filtering on a fixed appliance cost, organisations can already protect themselves by replacing first generation filtering technologies for a lower cost than database only/annul licence cost solutions.