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How to Keep Business Users Safe on the Internet

What Are the Dangers for Business Users on the Internet?

Everyone who uses the Internet faces potential dangers. Workers who use the Internet from their office are presented with some of the same threats everyone faces: hackers, malware, identity theft and even stalkers. But the risks go up from there. They are not just exposing their own home computer, but are exposing their business computer, networks and servers to threats from the Internet bandits.

Mis-use of your employer's Internet connection could lead to job dismissal -- or worse. Sharing copyrighted files is illegal, and many businesses have Acceptable Use Policies for their computers and the Internet. Misuse of company computers could lead to a security compromise which could lead to criminal charges being brought against company management.

What Criminal or Civil Penalties Could an Employer Face and Why?

Due to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and HIPAA Regulations, theft of information from a business can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and 10 years in jail for the business' senior management. In this case a victim, the business whose computers were compromised, gets severely punished.

Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998. This Act imposes substantial penalties for businesses whose systems are used to transfer copyrighted works -- even without the business' knowledge. In order to be immune from potential prosecution, all businesses with Internet connections must:

  1. Designate an agent to receive statutory notices from copyright owners about infringements
  2. Register with the Copyright Office
  3. Post the agent's name and address on the service provider's web site (if they have a web site)
  4. Adopt and reasonably implement a policy of terminating the accounts of subscribers who are repeat offenders
  5. Accommodate measures adopted by copyright owners to identify or protect copyrighted works.

A copyright owner can, under this act, seek civil damages, costs, and attorney's fees against a business whose equipment is used to distribute their work. Violation can also results in criminal prosecution. Courts may impose a fine of up to $500,00 and a prison sentence of up to five years for a first offense. For subsequent convictions, the fines can reach $1 Million, and the prison sentence can reach a full 10 years.

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