20% Report Child Sex Abuse Downloads at Work

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We know from experience that child sexual abuse content (CSA) is not an issue that ceases at the entrance to the workplaceNetclean

While it may seem horrifying to believe, a full 20% of respondents in a recent survey of UK professionals said that they were aware that someone in their workplace had downloaded child sexual abuse (CSA) material while at work.

That’s according to NetClean, which added that shockingly, of those, just 3.5% lead to criminal investigations and in the vast majority of cases (69%) nothing happened.

 “We know from experience that child sexual abuse content (CSA) is not an issue that ceases at the entrance to the workplace,” the company said in a statement emailed to media. “However, part of the problem with tackling the spread of CSA material is that people still underestimate the scale of the problem. There’s an inherent belief that it is the ‘local weirdo’ accessing illicit images and not the person sat opposite them in their day-to-day jobs.”

Indeed, the figures run counter to conventional wisdom. A third (33.3%) of respondents believe that just one in every 10,000 people look at child sexual abuse sites at work. A further 34% estimate that the number is just one in every million.

“This is simply not true,” the company said. “From our experience, one in every 1,000 employees will look at CSA content at work so the problem is much more commonplace.”

Part of the issue is increasing mobility, NetClean noted. The growth in portable USB devices and mobile storage means there is a disturbing trend of offenders increasingly bringing illegal images or videos into the workplace.

“In fact, many businesses are already unwittingly storing, and allowing the movement of, illegal images and videos across their networks,” it said

On a positive note, organizations have started proactively introducing measures to prevent the spread of CSA content in the workplace. The majority of those surveyed (78.7%) have an internet use policy in place that covers child sexual abuse sites, and in a quarter of businesses (24.1%) the drive to purchase blocking software is coming from the board of directors.

However, more still needs to be done. Just 9.2% of those surveyed believe that it is employers that have a responsibility to stop child sexual abuse content.  Instead, the majority of respondents believe that responsibility to tackle the issue lies with individuals (34.8%), government (29%) or ISPs (22%)—a view NetClean disagrees with.

“Today’s employers have a moral duty to tackle child abuse images on corporate networks,” the firm said. “The people who view these images are participating in a cycle of abuse; perpetuating a market for ringleaders to continue producing material that makes more children suffer. Relying on web filters alone won’t solve the problem.”

Regardless of where one feels the responsibility lies, organizations can certainly easily go one step further and use proven methods, such as file matching, to flag indecent images and cross reference them against existing ones on police databases to keep corporate networks clean from illegal content.

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