ScanSafe Reports 55% Increase in Employees Attempting to Download Illegal Software at Work

Jan 12, 2010, 08:00 ET from ScanSafe

LONDON and SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- ScanSafe, the pioneer and leading global provider of SaaS Web Security, today revealed its latest data showing a significant 55% increase in illegal MP3 and software download attempts over the last three months on corporate networks. ScanSafe currently processes data across more than 100 countries for millions of employees, giving it the industry's most significant insight into the latest trends in Web traffic and malware.

A US student, Joel Tenenbaum, has recently been fined $675,000 for illegally downloading music.  The court case focused on 30 tracks that Tenenbaum admitted downloading – he was subsequently fined $22,500 per song. 

Over the years, consumers have taken a carefree approach to illegally downloading music, not expecting to be held accountable for their actions. High-speed Internet connections have enabled even faster illegal downloads and alarmingly, more and more people are choosing to do so in the workplace.  

"Employees mistakenly assume they can use the Internet at work in exactly the same way as they use it at home and this is potentially one of the reasons for this steady increase in illegal download attempts over recent months," said Spencer Parker, director of product management at ScanSafe. "Inappropriate Internet use in the workplace can put the employer at risk for legal liabilities."

Often, an employer will be held legally responsible for any wrongful acts committed by an employee 'in the course of their employment'.  This phrase is very widely constructed – an act may be considered 'in the course of employment' even if it is expressly prohibited by the employer, a principle known as 'vicarious liability'. Even if a legal claim is unsuccessful, dealing with claims can make very substantial demands on management time and involve significant legal costs.   

Parker comments, "Downloading illegal content is a 'double whammy' for employers as not only does it put them at risk legally but it also puts the company network at risk of being infected with malware. A large majority of free illegal downloading websites are often riddled with malware."

Organizations should formulate Internet usage policies and educate employees on the goals of their policies, including making clear the potential consequences of non-compliance. Employers should also require staff to sign to acknowledge their understanding of acceptable Web use during working hours.

In addition to formulating a defined Internet usage policy, organizations should implement a comprehensive Web security solution in order to protect themselves. Web security solutions can completely block employees from accessing illegal websites, whilst ensuring corporate network is protected from malware at an affordable and predictable cost.

For more information on ScanSafe Web security solutions, please visit

About ScanSafe

ScanSafe (, now a part of Cisco, is the pioneer and largest global provider of SaaS Web Security, ensuring a safe and productive Internet environment for businesses. ScanSafe solutions keep malware off corporate networks and allow businesses to control and secure the use of the Web. As a SaaS solution, ScanSafe eliminates the burden of purchasing and maintaining infrastructure in-house, significantly lowering the total cost of ownership. Powered by its proactive, multilayered Outbreak Intelligence™ threat detection technology, ScanSafe processes more than 20 billion Web requests and 200 million blocks each month for customers in over 100 countries.

In 2009, the company was awarded "Best Content Security" solution by SC Magazine for the third consecutive year.