Do We Still Need Employee Monitoring Software?

Several years ago software that monitored employee use of the Internet was big news. We heard how thousands of workers, on company time, visited pornographic sites, downloaded music and videos or just spent inordinate amounts of time surfing the web.

Sexual harassment cases and lawsuits came up when folks saw offensive materials on their co-workers computers. Bandwidth charges were going up and network performance going down. In addition, there were statistics that said over 87% of hacking and confidential data losses were from company insiders. Workers just couldn’t be trusted.

The question is: “Has the situation evolved?” While there are more restrictions, guidelines and penalties for inappropriate use of company assets and handling of confidential materials, has employee behavior changed? And therefore, do we still need surveillance software for our employees? The answers are no and yes, respectively. Behavior hasn’t changed and yes we still need monitoring software.

Recent surveys indicate a majority of employers monitor their employees. They are motivated by concern over litigation and the increasing role that electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and government agency investigations.

Internet monitoring software has now evolved into larger security and surveillance suites. You can monitor and trace employees’ use of e-mails, the Internet, computer files, keystrokes, chats in all popular instant messengers, logins and logouts as well as “shadow copy” which allows network administers to create copies of files that are transferred to USB devices by workers.

Solutions include the following:

Record logging: record everything from key strokes, websites visited, FTP downloads, P2P downloads, and even screen captures of what is on a user’s computer

Email Logging: emails sent and received as well as attachments and Instant Messenger discussions can be monitored and recorded

Internet Filters: block ports on your network servers normally accessed by certain Internet protocols, as well as specific websites, bulletin boards, P2P downloads, foreign languages, and content using keyword filters

Anti-spyware/anti-virus: block downloads which are identified as potentially harmful as well as viruses, worms, malware, spam, drive-by downloads and phishing attacks

While most transgressions in the workplace are committed by a few, the impact on the organization of a single breach of trust could be great. Therefore we continue to monitor, safeguarding the halls of our institutions.