Exinda Networks last week launched a software system it claims will allow companies to formally charge employees for stealing bandwidth.
Claiming that bandwidth hogs are actually "stealing" from their employers, Exinda Networks director Con Nikolouzakis said the software is very different to current content monitoring offerings that are available.
While he admits there is no law specifically aimed at bandwidth hogs, Exinda's software can calculate the amount of data used by a specific employee so action can be taken.
"This URL bandwidth monitoring system doesn't just monitor Web sites but calculates how much bandwidth they are using; downloading MP3s and general Web surfing can absorb huge amounts of money and time," Nikolouzakis said.
"Just say you have an employee making international calls or ringing sex lines and you don't have a proper billing system on your PABX, you are stuck with the bill. This software is very much the same but for the Internet, so a company using it can calculate if an employee has misused $20,000 of company resources and charge them for it."
Describing the product as a complete network layer tool (from Layer 3 to 7), Nikolouzakis said it is different to content filtering software currently available.
"We are entering a whole new era of employer-employee responsibility with this software, and it has the potential to open a minefield of litigation and new responsibilities for workers and companies," he said.
"It goes beyond the regular rules of accessing illegal sites to a direct cost recovery item for the company and that translates to issues of theft as well as employee down time."
Nikolouzakis said pre-release installations of the software found as much as 80 percent of corporate bandwidth usage is for non-business related Internet access.
He said Web browsing accounts for around 70 percent of all bandwidth usage in a business and the ability to measure and set benchmarks using the software provides companies with an opportunity to slash bandwidth costs or avoid costly upgrades.
On average, Exinda estimates a 50-person business currently spends about $3500 a month on bandwidth costs.
Both NSW and Victoria are presently reviewing workplace monitoring laws with amendments expected in coming months which are aimed at establishing a balance between employee surveillance and privacy.