Best Alternative to Wireshark for Monitoring Employee Internet Usage

Employee Monitoring Software: Wireshark vs BrowseReporter

Looking for software to monitor employee computer activity? This article will compare CurrentWare’s employee monitoring software BrowseReporter to Wireshark, a free and open-source (FOSS) network protocol analyzer that is occasionally used for employee internet usage monitoring using packet analysis

What is Wireshark?

Screenshot of Wireshark 3.0.3

Wireshark is a free and open-source (FOSS) network protocol analyzer. It lets you see intimate details of what’s happening on your network. It inspects individual packets in network traffic, making it a useful tool for troubleshooting and inspecting networks.

Due to its high complexity Wireshark is a great protocol analyzer and network troubleshooting tool, but it is not very good at monitoring for long periods of time or providing basic employee internet history.

Wireshark’s Key Features

  • Deep inspection of hundreds of protocols
  • Live capture and offline analysis
  • Standard three-pane packet browser
  • Read/write many different capture file formats: tcpdump (libpcap), Pcap NG, Catapult DCT2000, Cisco Secure IDS iplog, Microsoft Network Monitor, Network General Sniffer® (compressed and uncompressed), Sniffer® Pro, and NetXray®, Network Instruments Observer, NetScreen snoop, Novell LANalyzer, RADCOM WAN/LAN Analyzer, Shomiti/Finisar Surveyor, Tektronix K12xx, Visual Networks Visual UpTime, WildPackets EtherPeek/TokenPeek/AiroPeek, and many others
  • Live data can be read from Ethernet, IEEE 802.11, PPP/HDLC, ATM, Bluetooth, USB, Token Ring, Frame Relay, FDDI, and others (depending on your platform)
  • Decryption support for many protocols, including IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2

What is BrowseReporter?

Employee Productivity Report

BrowseReporter is an employee computer monitoring software created by CurrentWare. It is adopted by a wide array of organizations and industries including education, healthcare, libraries, and for-profit businesses. 

BrowseReporter’s proprietary tracking technology allows its reports to filter out “noisy” URLs and other web-related information such as SDK’s, CDN’s and Advertising pixels that make Wireshark’s user activity data difficult to understand for monitoring employee web activity.

Due to its ease-of-use, BrowseReporter is used by management, Human Resources, and IT personnel to easily track the internet and application usage of employees or other users that are using company computers.

BrowseReporter’s Key Features

  • Web Monitoring: Track what websites are being visited and how much time is spent on them
  • Application Usage: Track what applications are being used and how much time is spent on them
  • User Activity Reports: Employee computer activity reports can be generated as needed or scheduled to be sent to designated inboxes.

Employee Web Usage Monitoring: Wireshark vs BrowseReporter

BrowseReporter logo, computer monitoring software

Wireshark is an excellent tool for analyzing individual network packets and other detailed network usage data. While Wireshark can also be used to monitor the websites accessed by employees based on IP and MAC-address on a LAN network, this process is difficult and inefficient for monitoring employee internet use.

For the best results you should use dedicated employee computer monitoring software such as BrowseReporter. BrowseReporter is purpose-built to simplify monitoring employee internet use by showing you the details you care about: how are your employees spending their time while at work?

BrowseReporterWireshark
Free or Paid?Paid software with a free trialFree and Open Source
OS CompatibilityThe majority of computers running Windows operating systems on 32-bit or 64-bit platforms.

All components of CurrentWare are supported on desktop computers, virtual machines (VMs) and servers with the following specifications:

Windows 7 SP1 Pro/Enterprise and Ultimate 32-bit or 64-bit

Windows 8 & 8.1 Pro/Enterprise 32-bit or 64-bit

Windows 10 Home/Pro/Enterprise 32-bit or 64-bit

Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2016 and 2019 (Compatible with Remote Desktop Services [RDS] or Terminal Servers [TS])
Windows, macOS, UNIX, Linux, and Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD).

It should support any version of Windows that is still within its extended support lifetime.

It supports macOS 10.12 and later.

It runs on most UNIX and UNIX-like platforms including Linux and most BSD variants.
Ease of UseSimple. Each website your employees visit are available for review in a variety of tabular and graphical reports.

“Noisy” data such as CDNs that your employee’s aren’t actively visiting and individual network packets are filtered out, letting you focus on what your employees are actually doing.
Difficult. Provides highly detailed information on all network transfers that occur on the network.

Employee website monitoring using packet analysis is not ideal. The data collected is “noisy” due to tracking individual network packets rather than focusing on employee web use.

The data collected by Wireshark is obscure for your average business’ employee activity monitoring needs and will need to be parsed/complied before being used in employee productivity reports.
Best Used ForEmployee Productivity. Ensure that your employees are not spending an excessive amount of time on non-work sites and apps.
 
Employee Monitoring. Seeing how your employees are spending their time, enforcing acceptable use policies, and monitoring your network for high-risk web browsing.
Network Troubleshooting. Real-time monitoring of individual network packets to troubleshoot technical issues on your network.

Network Monitoring. Performing in-depth network auditing and detecting possible rogue traffic or activities on your network.

Learn More About BrowseReporter

How to Monitor Application Use With BrowseReporter

Learn More: https://www.currentware.com/track-application-usage/

How to Monitor Employee Web Activity With BrowseReporter

Thanks for checking out the latest CurrentWare how-to video. Today we will cover How to Monitor Internet Use. 

If you like this or other videos we’ve produced, hit the subscribe button below. Stay tuned to the end to learn how to get a free trial of the software I demo today.

In a previous video, we covered some of the benefits of monitoring employees including for productivity reasons, to avoid legal liability and to prevent cyber threats. In this video, we’re going to cover how to monitor internet use and some of the industry best practices.

We’re going to be using BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s computer monitoring solution. 

This solution requires an agent to be installed on your employee’s computers. Once installed, their computer activity is streamed to your server where you can run reports and view their activity. 

To start off, we recommend you determine which browsers are being used by your company. This is a good time to look at your company’s policy and determine which default browser you recommend. You can also find out which browsers your employees are using with BrowseReporter’s application monitoring report. In addition, you can actually block the installation or use of other browsers by using CurrentWare’s BrowseControl solution.

The next step is to figure out what time period you want to look at. You can pull reports on demand at any desired time period including last 7 days, last month or a custom date range. 

For this example, we’ll look at yesterday’s results. Now you can actually schedule these reports to email automatically to the appropriate person on your team, but in this case we are going to use on-demand reports, pulling the reports up as needed.

So let’s jump in and start with a snapshot report on employee internet use based on productivity.

With the CurrentWare Employee Productivity Report, you get a simple snapshot into how much time was spent on websites that are deemed to be productive. The definition of productive is based on our proprietary system of ranking each website based on whether it’s productive, unproductive or neutral. You can even change the categorization of websites based on your business needs to make this report more helpful.

Looking at the CurrentWare console, we’ll pull up the employee productivity report for employee Conan. We will look at yesterday’s performance and see that Conan was only 24% productive. The majority of his time was spent on Social Media and Sports websites vs. work related tasks.

The next way to assess productivity is to see which sites someone has spent the most time on. For example, if you know the employee is on the sales team and should be spending the majority of time on salesforce.com, you can investigate and see which are the main sites they are really browsing. 

By pulling up the Top Domains visited report, we can see exactly which domains Conan browsed yesterday by Active Time and Total Time. Similar to the previous report, we see the majority of his time was spent on Facebook and ESPN.

One of the most interesting features of CurrentWare’s internet monitoring reports are related to tracking the actual activity of a user and not letting the data get convoluted with different tabs or windows that a user has open.

BrowseReporter has 3 different ways to determine how the internet and applications are being used:

  • Active Time
  • Total Time
  • Idle Time

Active Time measures how long the current window is in focus, giving you the most accurate report on where users spent their time on websites and applications. BrowseReporter has the capability to determine which website tab was active at the top of the screen so you get extremely accurate reporting on where they spent their time. 

Total Time measures the total duration the window is opened for, from the start time until the end time regardless of whether the window was in focus or not. Not every user acts the same. Some users switch between two monitors. Some like to stream content in the background. No matter what their behaviors are, BrowseReporter can track the total time they spent on the websites whether or not they were focused on the window.

Finally, Idle time measures how long the user is away from his computer after the mouse and keyboard stopped moving. By default, idle time is tracked after 20 minutes of inactivity. Time tracking should be fair. If your users are not in front of their computers, BrowseReporter will separate the time tracked into idle time so you can filter it out if you need to during report generation.

Now if you want to investigate the exact website pages that the employee visited, you can use the Sites visited report. This report breaks down each url in detail along with how much time was spent on each page.

This lets you distill down if they were looking at pages related to work on those domains or if it was something more personal. This is specifically helpful for domains like youtube.com which for certain industries or roles can provide value, but knowing which exact video was watched can help you understand the use case by the employee.

Finally, we recommend investigating productivity by looking at employee keyword searches.

This report allows you to Review the exact search keywords used by employees and Identify employees that are distracted or struggling with specific topics. In addition, you can also discover employee sentiment and monitor for high-risk search terms such as attempts to find adult-oriented websites.

In this keywords searched example we can see employee Greg has searched lots of personal items into google over the past working days. This helps you understand where they may be spending their time and what they are  browsing in google.

That’s it for this video on how to monitor internet use with BrowseReporter. If you have any thoughts on the reports or suggestions we’ve covered in this video, feel free to comment below.. 

If you’d like to give BrowseReporter or any of the other CurrentWare Solutions a try, please check our free trial at currentware.com/download or get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help!

Learn More: https://www.currentware.com/how-to-monitor-internet-usage/

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.
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Essentials for implementing a successful employee monitoring strategy

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👉 Presentations for key stakeholders

👉 Best practices for monitoring employees

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