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DC Porn Scandal Highlights Need for Data Control

When Vivek Kundra, the new chief technology officer for the city of Washington, started to investigate Web use in his network last December, he couldn't predict that his data management tactics would lead to a major scandal involving 18 government agencies.

But that's just what happened. Last week, results of monitoring by Kundra's team lead to D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's firing nine people after software from Websense indicated they had accessed pornographic Websites from government computers more than 19,000 times apiece in 2007. About 32 others got reprimands for surfing porn sites more than 2,000 times during the year.

Among the 18 government agencies with fired employees were the Office of Property Management, the Office of Contracting and Procurement, and the Child and Family Services Agency.

The news starkly illustrates why many firms are choosing to add filtering software to their lineup of data management wares. According to Websense, employee activity on the Internet is responsible for an enormous amount of corporate liability to lawsuit and data risk. Websense's Website states that "1 in 3 corporations have spyware on their networks; 45% of IT managers reported that viruses have infected their company's network; 70% of all internet porn traffic occurs during the 9 to 5 work day."

Websense, which made news by acquiring leak prevention vendor PortAuthority for $90 million in 2006, competes with a growing roster of companies that includes Blue Coat, St. Bernard Software, and 8e6 Technologies, to name just a few. Each of these vendors aims to save companies from allowing email and other content on their networks that could subject them to compliance or legal action.

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