Magazine article New Zealand Management

Image Conscious

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Image Conscious

Article excerpt

There have been plenty of examples in recent times of individuals and organisations succumbing to an attack of "visual viruses"--otherwise known as inappropriate images in the workplace.

Despite the best attempts by some organisations to filter out illicit images from their networks, there are still incidences where inappropriate pictures delivered via the internet have had a serious impact on the image of the company or institution concerned--the New Zealand Police perhaps being the most memorable example in recent months.

Now embattled managers have a new technology tool at their disposal to protect their organisation and employees from illicit image abuse.

Launched in New Zealand at the Govis 2005 conference in Wellington during May, PixAlert Monitor is a software program that scans, analyses and blurs images as they are displayed on computer screens if they contain illicit images. It's real-time censorship--in much the same way as the identity of a person on television is protected by blurring his or her image in the appropriate place.

Regardless of the source, when an improper image is viewed the software creates a record in a machine-specific audit log and an alert goes to the administrator's console as soon as the PC in question connects to the corporate network.

When an alert is received, a thumbnail representation of the image, plus the machine name, user-name, date-time, and the program used, can be viewed by the administrator who can then initiate appropriate action.

PixAlert Auditor adds another layer of security--it can run locally on a suspect PC or be deployed remotely in order to scan all computers on a network. It carries out a full audit scan of the images stored on the network. Suspect images, which exceed a pre-defined threshold, are presented in a user-friendly gallery. The scan provides a full report on its findings and the administrator can add any inappropriate images found to a case file.

The Centre for Internet Studies of the University of Washington has reported that more than 60 percent of companies have disciplined staff and more than 30 percent have terminated employment for illicit image abuse--so clearly there is a problem.

The advantages of PixAlert are obvious, particularly in regard to reducing the risk of civil or criminal litigation, and for generally 'cleaning up' the workplace. …

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