Having recently changed jobs, I’ve run into something that I haven’t had to deal with in my entire career: network restrictions. The new network policy has everyone sitting behind a very restrictive proxy server that blocks many individual sites and even things like ssh to the Internet.

I totally understand the need for the security team to restrict Internet content. Blocking sites like gambling, pornography, or hate speech sites makes perfect sense. The company is really liable for anything damaging that is on their computers, so it’s best to block that stuff full stop.

The problem I have is when the IT department takes it upon themselves to tell people how to to do their jobs or to restrict things that they think are “unnecessary” or “unproductive”. Some sites may seem unnecessary for many, but it IS necessary for some people. Can you have a social media marketing team without Twitter or Facebook access? Blocking the site full on removes all of the benefits of Facebook access. Any of the “non-productive” access is really a personnel problem and not a technology problem, anyway! If someone checks Facebook and the person’s manager doesn’t mind, how is that a problem? If a user sits and watches YouTube all day and it’s a problem, isn’t that a problem for the person’s manager? Why is the IT department the productivity police? No other department seems to think they can make overarching rules like this for other departments.

What about SSH or RDP access to systems outside of the company? Cloud servers, for instance. If you have those in use, you have to manage them. How is blocking those ports productive? Argh.

Network and Internet restrictions, when they are not related to actual content that can get the company in trouble, are simply an overreach by the IT department. It’s really that simple.

Written on June 19, 2019