Friday, 13 March 2009

Pornography! How Do You Detect It?

Today I was contacted by an old workmate through Facebook, we had a quick chat and that was it.

I then got to thinking about him, and remembered how one day while he was away from his desk, a series of pornographic images were displayed on his work laptop’s screen.

He obviously got into a great deal of trouble for this, but his reason was sincere.  He had saved some images from the internet on one of his (many) USB flash drives while using his own PC at home, and that day at work he plugged in the flash drive into his work laptop,forgetting the images were there.  He left the drive plugged in when he went to lunch, and his computer picked up the images and used them as a screensaver.  Oops!

Pornography on business or education computers is bad news though, there is the potential for huge financial losses for the company, as well as a massive loss of productivity and employee enthusiasm all due to lengthy investigations, lay-off’s, and lawsuits. 

I started looking in to this online, and came across a product, use by the likes of the US Army, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.  The product (software) is SurfRecon ERT (Emergency Response Tool)and it uses some pretty advanced algorithms to detect pornographic images, preventing the requirement for an employer to request another member of staff to investigate an employees computer for possibly pornographic images (which could apparently result in sexual harassment lawsuits!).  SurfRecon ERT can then generate a report on any evidence found.

It’s a pretty interesting tool, and worth investigating further, as such I have downloaded an evaluation copy to try out at home… I will report my findings in a follow up article at some point.

SurfRecon ERT (available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems) has the potential to remove the risk of a hostile work environment and to reduce costs to employers, and for this I wish the SurfRecon the best of luck with their product.

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