ISSE 2004 [Deutsche Version]

"Big Brother Does Not Keep
Your Assets Safe"

Title Page ISSE 2004 Book
ISSE 2004

Essay on Employee Privacy and IT Security
Pages 75-85

Book edited by Sachar Paulus, Norbert Pohlmann und Helmut Reimer

Wiesbaden 2004

ISBN 3-528-05910-9

The book in libraries

Link to the presentation (PDF)


There seem to be many reasons today to increase employee and user monitoring as a measure of security. The well-known insider threat is the first one: Statistics tell that security breaches caused by employees or internal users of information systems outrun the attacks of external hackers in number and severity. In connection to this aspect another motivation to implement workplace surveillance is the fact that in many countries a CEO or a board member of a company can be held responsible for the use employees make of the communication systems provided by their employers.

Nowadays a third reason has become even more important than the two already mentioned. Organisations struggling with the increasing pressure by law and by financial regulations to implement risk management realise that the behaviour of employees is a source of “uncertainty and unpredictability in any organisation’s environment”. The best measure to minimise this risk seems to watch every person working in an organisation as closely as possible to predict what he or she is up to. Companies try to make starting lawsuits against insiders as easy as possible. As a result of these considerations preventative security measures like access control are often devaluated. Employee monitoring is presented as the key to secure IT environments and communication systems.

Unfortunately, technicians and managers tend to overlook the drawbacks and unwanted side effects of surveillance. This article will focus on these aspects. It aims to show that monitoring can undermine the power of an organisation and its chance to be a learning organisation, because the unpredictable elements of the employees' behaviour are not only a source of uncertainty, but also a source of creativity desperately searched for in a period of weak economy. Furthermore, surveillance itself poses new security threats to those who use it thoughtlessly. 


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Zuletzt bearbeitet: 25.10.2004