Temp staff: A security and legal nightmare?

Temporary workers can threaten network security and cause legal troubles if they are not schooled in an organisation's IT policies.

Temporary workers can threaten network security--and cause legal troubles--when not schooled in an organization's IT policies.

And most don't conduct this sort of training properly. 45 per cent of U.K. businesses do not require temps to sign off on the same rules and regulations as permanent staff, according to a recent survey conducted by FAST Corporate Services.

Geoff Webster, CEO of FAST Corporate Services, told silicon.com the situation becomes particularly dire when temps arrive with their own laptops. "You don't know what comes with laptop," he said. "It could contain a virus or Trojan", which can then spread to the employer's computer network.

Temps could also download copyrighted materials such as music, access pornography or spread defamatory remarks--all of which the employer would be liable for and could lead to expensive legal bills.

So what can companies to do stop temps from wreaking havoc?

"What companies ought to have in place is policies and procedures for their own employees - so they understand what the company expects of them," said Webster. "Then they should give temps the same document to read, understand and sign that says 'when working for this company, this is what you can do'."

If temps arrive with their own laptops, the IT department should check they are virus-free and spyware-free, Webster continued.

The principle reasons why nearly half of U.K. businesses don't require temps to sign policy agreements are a lack of awareness of the damage temps can cause - and because they don't do it for their own employees, according to Webster.

Though not out to deliberately cause harm, temps are more likely to violate IT policies than fulltime employees, said Webster, "because they are not subject to the disciplines" of a particular company. "Temps might come in with the attitude--'I can download anything off the internet'. They may think because of past experience that it's OK," he said.

FAST Corporate Services is a for-profit organization which provides education on software use for businesses.