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Pornography and illegal images a growing problem

Audits on over 125 corporate and public sector networks by PixAlert over the last nine months found that 25.8% of the 10,000 PCs scanned contained digital pornography or other inappropriate images. The sample audits also found that 12.4% of the 12,000 email accounts and 5.4% of 26,000 file server shares scanned were similarly affected.

With regards to the images themselves, 46.8% were found to show full nudity or sexual activity while 0.3% were determined to be illegal. While 35.0% were internet images, a worrying 45.2% of images detected were sourced from emails; and of these 19.7% were outbound and 35.5% sent internally.

"With a over third of all images found created in the last 12 months it is clear that a significant number of employees continue to ignore corporate policies and in some cases are going to extraordinary lengths to bypass protection systems in order to obtain and distribute inappropriate material," says Andy Churley, marketing director at PixAlert. "Corporate officers wrongly assume that boundary protection systems stop all digital pornography from entering the organisation but, in PixAlert's experience, almost all corporations will have a significant amount of pornography on their networks."

The only effective way to detect, manage and eliminate these inappropriate images is by using powerful network audit or real-time monitoring solutions to enhance the traditional gateway solutions. Using a high-speed image analysis engine, the new PixAlert Auditor 3.4 rapidly identifies digital pornography in over 150 different file types on all corporate IT resources such as PCs, file servers and email servers.

"While all organisations actively discourage access to inappropriate images at work, our audits show that the reality is that all establishments have a lot of digital pornography residing on their networks that they don't know about," says Churley. "Companies are particularly concerned when they have visibility of the number of pornographic images being distributed by email internally or sent out to other organisations using a corporate email address."

PixAlert offers a complimentary Discovery Audit to companies covering a subset of desktops, servers and email files, to assess the level of illicit image content on the network. Along with this, PixAlert provides a report that assesses the overall risk and severity of inappropriate images based on the material found in the audit.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.