Cost and Effect of Employees’ Bad Internet Behavior 

by RaeAnne Marsh

Internet-BehaviorInformation technology managers report a high incidence of troublesome habits among office workers using company computers, according to a U.S. survey recently released by TeamViewer, a leading provider of remote control and online meetings software. The survey was aimed at determining how big an effect common “bad behaviors” have, both on the IT department and on the company’s bottom line.

“We chose a mixture of all kinds of businesses to represent the whole picture,” says Magdalena Brzakala, spokesperson for TeamViewer. The survey found 92 percent of IT administrators reported seeing behavior that posed potential risk to the company, some of it perhaps surprising in light of highly publicized data breaches. Often, resulting problems are due to a “drive-by infection” that the employee is unaware of, caused by a program downloading in the background when he or she visits a website.

Effects are experienced in both productivity and direct cost. Ninety percent of IT administrators say they have witnessed problems to company equipment as a result of risky behavior. Viruses put company data, from intellectual property to employee financial data, at risk of loss or theft. Less obvious repercussions include slowed computers that increase the amount of time employees spend opening emails, thus reducing their productivity, and the labor cost associated with the IT technician identifying and fixing the problem, as well as the cost of fraud from the theft of credentials, Brzakala points out. Or malicious software can cause mass popups that interfere with accessing an intended site, says Andre Schindler, sales manager for North and South America. “Close one popup and five others open.”

Among other inefficiencies identified by the survey is impact on the IT staff. Twenty-three percent of IT workers are now putting in between 10 and 20 extra hours in a given week, with 4 percent reporting that it has caused them to work more than 40 extra hours in a week. Forty-one percent of IT administrators estimate that they walk between 1 and 9 miles in a given month traveling from desk to desk and floor to floor during their daily tasks.

“While most companies are OK with their employees using company equipment for activities such as browsing social media sites, the results of our study reveal that these actions can cause problems down the line,” says Kornelius Brunner, head of product management at TeamViewer. “Businesses should be prepared to handle such situations, especially with valuable company data on the line.” And it is not just behavior on company computers that poses a risk, but also behavior on personal devices when employees transfer files to work at home.

The survey underscored the importance of policies and programs to mitigate threats. These include educating employees about how to use the company Internet — most importantly, to not visit unknown websites or open an email attachment without knowing who sent it. “Changing their behavior may be hard, but it’s important,” Brzakala says. She also suggests companies educate their employees regularly as to network security. “Inform them of the latest threats and fraud websites.”

Internet Issues: The View from the IT Department

Harmful Internet Behaviors


How often seen by IT administrators

Browsing of social media websites


Opening inappropriate email attachments


Downloading games


Plugging in unauthorized USB devices


Plugging in unauthorized personal devices


Illegal downloads (e.g., pirating movies, music or software)


Looking for other jobs



Problems caused by these actions

Encountered by what percent of IT administrators



Slow computers


Crashed computers


Mass popups


Inability to open email


Measures to Mitigate Impact
While leisure activity on company equipment might be inevitable, 94 percent of IT administrators cited tools that can help mitigate resulting problems.


Favored by what percent of IT administrators

Better security software


Using remote access software to fix problems


Disk cleanup software


Automatic backup solutions


Ability of IT technician to telecommute


TeamViewer survey March 2014


Speak Your Mind

In Business Dailies

Sign up for a complimentary year of In Business Dailies with a bonus Digital Subscription of In Business Magazine delivered to your inbox each month!

  • Get the day’s Top Stories
  • Relevant In-depth Articles
  • Daily Offers
  • Coming Events