• United States
Contributing Writer

Mailbag: Policies, policies, policies

Jun 09, 20044 mins
Data Center

* Reader chimes in on the issue of enforcing policies

This week, I’d like to dedicate most of this column to the insightful wisdom I received from a reader about how to handle policies throughout the enterprise.

He is a longtime IT veteran who now works at a gas company. As he puts it, he’s worked both sides of the IT support coin – “as a power user and as an IT development/support geek.”

I posed the question of whether everyone should be allowed Internet and messaging access. This stemmed from a discussion we had on-site at one of our Technology Tours. This reader puts a different spin on the issue that goes back to corporate liability.

“It’s not a necessity,” he says, “but most organizations, especially those with an intranet, assume that all employees have access, and read not only their intranet postings, but every broadcast e-mail that comes out. If not all employees have access, then management must ensure that all direct reports get a paper copy of everything posted in near real time as the posting so as to not discriminate against employees.” The implication here is that companies considered to be discriminating could face legal ramifications. Therefore, employees need equal access to information.

He says that rather than denying Internet and messaging access, companies should create a policy that addresses proper use of these tools and every employee should be made to sign that policy. “It should include termination in the case of repeat violations,” he says.

On the subject of viruses, he also puts the onus back on the company to create a strategy. “If your company does not have a corporate virus solution, does not have an automated virus update procedure set up via push or pull, and does not educate users in a repeated, regular fashion, IT is to blame,” he says. “Should users be clicking on ‘I love you!’ messages? Of course not. But the most accountable people here are the ones who get paid to implement and support IT, not the ones using it.”

His recommendation: “Companies should filter and strip attachments, and set up policies for receiving suspect, but necessary attachments.” He says violators of the corporate policy should be reprimanded and even terminated.

Finally, he comments on the issue of extended work hours and network access. “If users utilize their own equipment to gain access to work resources, corporate IT should require and provide a virus solution, minimally, to each home user, on a case-by-case basis. If you are worried about work data on a non-work machine or virus software updates, etc., you should provide a remote terminal solution.”

He says, “Setting policies and standards are important and setting up both a ‘supported’ and a ‘we’ll help you if we can’ list of applications is absolutely essential, as is involving IT in all IT-related software and hardware solutions. I’ve seen many cases where a ‘we’ll roll out our own solution’ has become a support nightmare for IT. You can’t require something you are not willing to write down and commit to.”

Well stated on all points. Thanks for this feedback. What do you think? Is this reader dead-on or is he putting too much pressure on IT to control users? Let me know at


Upcoming Events:

Remote Office Networking Technology Tour

Keynote: James Gaskin, NW Lab Alliance member

“Remote office networks are our fastest growing need.” “A crucial competitive edge.” “The future of the enterprise.”  This is the word from corporations. How can network managers meet the business demands of remote and mobile workers and avoid the downside? Balance costs with benefits? Protect data and profits, too? Attend “Remote Office Networking: Central to Success” to find out. It’s where you’ll see solutions that embrace far-flung networks and yet integrate with your architecture.

Wireless LANs Technology Tour

Keynote: Craig Mathias, Farpoint Group

Today there’s just one universal truth about building sophisticated wireless LANs: The design, management, and buying decisions you make now will determine the effectiveness of your enterprise network for years to come. Attend “Wireless LANs: Gaining Strength, Reaching Farther,” a new Network World Technology Tour event. It brings together the intelligence, innovations, and solutions you need at an exclusive forum led by industry expert Craig J. Mathias.