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March Madness May Mean Lagging Workplace Productivity

Since March 2007, the number of sports-related Web sites has grown 19 percent, increasing from 587,000 to more than 700,000 this year, according to the Websense Inc. Internet research team.

Dean Coza is director of product management for Websense, a local company that develops and markets Web-filtering solutions to help organizations manage their networks and computing resources.

Coza said that as March Madness momentum hits each year, NCAA basketball fans tend to manage their brackets while on the clock, keeping up with the latest tournament news and engaging in sports gambling.

Steve Yin is vice president of marketing for Carmel Mountain Ranch-based St. Bernard Software Inc., a company that focuses on network security for businesses.

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“March Madness is unique in that it lasts for weeks, rather than just occurring once,” Yin said.

“This is a major sporting event that happens during business hours, unlike a Sunday evening Super Bowl and unlike holiday bowl games during football season,” he said.

Businesses face two threats, according to Coza, surrounding high-profile events that spur heavy Internet traffic: a drop in employee productivity and an increased risk of Web-based attacks such as spyware and phishing.

On March 18, Websense reported that the official Web site of MSNBC Sports had been compromised with malicious code.

If an unprotected user were to visit an otherwise reputable site that was infected, Coza said, hackers would be able to access information from that person’s computer.


Gambling Sites Growing

Since March 2007, gambling-related Web sites have grown 56 percent, according to Websense research, offering hackers another avenue for malicious threats during high-profile sporting events.

St. Bernard, which employs 100 people locally, offers a Web filter appliance called the iPrism that customers can tailor to their specific needs or “acceptable use policies.”

Yin said that the key for most businesses is balancing employee productivity with employee morale.

“Decreased network performance costs real money, so if nine people are watching streaming video while one person’s trying to work, there’s a domino effect that is a strain on the company dollar,” Yin said.

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