Computer Spy Software—What You Need to Know

Computer Spy, Shadowy Figure with digital background

Employee monitoring is an excellent tool for understanding how your workforce operates.

Unfortunately a history of overly-invasive deployments has caused serious concerns among employees, like:

Is my employer spying on me?

They’re just doing this to find an excuse to fire me

If they’re monitoring what I do at work, they obviously don’t trust me

This is not what you want your employees to feel. 

In this video I’m going to guide you through the best practices for monitoring employees so you can avoid these mistakes and concerns from your employees

Hello and welcome to the CurrentWare YouTube channel. 

My name is Neel Lukka and I am the managing director here at CurrentWare.

After watching this video you can learn more about this topic by reading our new white paper “Employee Monitoring: Best practices for balancing productivity, security and privacy”

You can find the link for that in the description below.

Before we start, I just want to give a quick disclaimer here. 

I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. These tips are for informational purposes only. If you want to use employee monitoring software in your company be sure to consult with a legal professional first.

Alright, let’s jump in

First up is the very best tip I can give you.

If you want to succeed, you have to let your employees know that they are being monitored.

Employees that do not know if they are being monitored, why they are being monitored, and how they are being monitored are more likely to have negative reactions to being monitored

such as

Having higher rates of stress and anxiety

Being less likely to accept being monitored

And, ironically, becoming less productive

That’s not to say that transparency is going to negate each and every concern that your employees may have.

But if you start with transparency from the very beginning you have a far better chance of proving to your employees that these tools aren’t being used to spy on them. 

By being transparent you’re also giving the chance to hear about their concerns from the start. This lets you work with them to make an employee monitoring strategy that is fair and minimally invasive.

Here are 4 transparency boosting tips:

Involve a representative sample of employees when you start planning your goals and the metrics you want to capture

Tell your employees what metrics are being captured, how they’ll be used, and what is being used to capture them

Have your staff read and sign policies that disclose your intended use of the employee monitoring software

and finally, give them access to their own data so they can see exactly what’s being captured. They can even use this data to manage their own productivity, which is a major bonus

The second tip I have for you is don’t use employee monitoring to micromanage

One of the reasons that monitoring can be perceived negatively is that it feels like it’s being used to punish employees. They worry that it’s the software equivalent of a micromanaging boss staring over their shoulder while they work, just waiting for them to slip up.

Some employers do monitor internet use to make sure employees aren’t getting carried away, but did you know that so-called “unproductive” internet browsing has actually been found to have a positive impact on productivity?

It’s true! But only if that browsing doesn’t take up more than 12% of their work time.

Employees feel far better about being monitored when they’re given the autonomy to self-manage first. Managers can step in if things are getting carried away or if their employees are visiting clearly inappropriate websites.

The third and final tip I have for you today is to not monitor more than you have to.

Think about it this way – if I told you that I wanted to make sure that employee’s weren’t visiting not safe for work websites, you’d think I was crazy for asking for a direct feed into their webcams. 

The bottom line is this: 

If you can meet your company’s goals with a less invasive method of monitoring, do it that way.

For example, if you want some backup for your acceptable use policies you can use internet monitoring software to see what sites are being visited. 

But there’s no need to track individual keystrokes

Or maybe you want to protect data from being stolen. You can monitor the flow of data without recording audio clips of private conversations

Finally, maybe you want to track the work habits of employees that are working remotely or from home. Give them a company-provided device rather than monitoring their personal computers

That’s it for now. 

If you want learn more, check out our new white paper “Employee Monitoring: Best practices for balancing productivity, security and privacy”

You can find the link for that in the description below.

If you’d like to try out employee monitoring in your company, visit CurrentWare.com/Download for a free trial of BrowseReporter, our computer monitoring software.

And as always stay tuned to our YouTube channel for more videos about employee monitoring, cyber security, and CurrentWare’s workforce management software.

Would you like to use computer spy software to monitor employees in your workplace? CurrentWare’s remote PC monitoring software can be deployed in visible or hidden mode, allowing you to track computer activity of employees.

  • Monitor employee productivity with activity logs of browser history, application usage, desktop screenshots and other online behavior
  • Record browser activity to enforce acceptable use policies for your computer network and ensure appropriate online behavior
  • Track USB connections and use the USB file activity tracking features to stop potential data breaches
  • Monitor network bandwidth usage to identify bandwidth hogs
  • Keep captured data on-premises for optimal data protection

In this article you will learn how to use computer monitoring software to spy on what a user does in their web browser, the types of reports offered by CurrentWare’s computer monitoring software, and how to get a free trial to install on the device you want to track and control.

Learn More: CurrentWare’s computer monitoring software features

FREE WHITE PAPER

Best Practices for Monitoring Employees

In today's privacy-conscious world employers need to monitor employees in a way that is transparent, minimally invasive, and respectful of employee privacy

Read this white paper to learn the best practices for monitoring employees in the workplace.


"When we first saw the employee tracking reports we were totally surprised by some of the behaviors that had gone under the radar" - Kevin Porsche, IT Admin, Shady Maple

Looking for internet control and computer monitoring software for a Windows PC?

With CurrentWare’s award winning productivity and security software you can:

  • Track Employee Productivity: See if work hours are spent on social media or work-related tasks
  • Control Internet Connection: Block websites on any web browser
  • Track Websites Visited: See what websites are visited, how long the user was browsing, and if they were actively using the website
  • Capture Screenshots: Record automatic screenshots when your user visits a specific website or uses a specific app
  • Stealth Mode: Install the Windows spy software with the stealth or transparent modes enabled to meet your privacy requirements.
  • User & Computer Monitoring: Get reports on a target computer and specific computer users. Review aggregated data or see exactly which user is responsible for bandwidth abuse and low productivity
  • Bandwidth Monitoring: See how much data is sent and received by each computer and user to diagnose network speed issues and identify bandwidth hogs that interfere with computer network connections.


What Is Computer Spy Software?

Computer Spy, Shadowy Figure with digital background

Computer monitoring solutions can be split into two distinct categories: Computer programs that allow designated administrators to track computer usage on their managed devices, and malicious spyware programs that are used to unknowingly exfiltrate data on infected systems. 

Non-malicious spy software for PC can be used by an employer to monitor a employee that is using a company-owned computer. Stealth monitoring (incognito monitoring) is used as a proactive protection measure for alerting managers and security personnel to unlawful or dangerous behaviors of their employees without making the computer monitoring system visible to them. 

Spy software for PCs can be deployed remotely via company servers to the devices that will be monitored, allowing for the software to be distributed to remote workers. With stealth monitoring features enabled on the program, users will not be aware that computer monitoring is taking place. 

The preference for stealth monitoring vs transparent monitoring in a given workplace is dependent on the culture of the company, applicable legislation, and their employee computer monitoring goals.

Examples of Stealth PC Monitoring Software

  • Internet Usage Monitors: Software for monitoring internet activities that tracks websites visited, bandwidth consumption, search keywords, and the time spent on the web. These softwares are often used to identify personal internet browsing during work hours.
  • Employee Monitoring Software: Tools used by managers to increase productivity, detect insider threats, collect evidence of misconduct, and protect computers against misuse. These features often come with features for alerting designated personnel to suspicious or undesirable activity.
  • Endpoint Security Software: These types of software track how users interact with the devices and the files they have access to. Endpoint monitoring tools are used by businesses as a proactive method of endpoint protection to ensure that data accessed by devices is kept safe.
  • Spyware: Malicious programs used to secretly record devices and steal data. These programs come with features that are used for espionage and data theft, such as a keylogger to capture every keystroke; keyloggers are often used to remotely spy on online conversation and steal passwords.

Is Computer Spy Software Legal?

California Consumer Privacy Act

In the US and Canada, employee monitoring is generally perfectly legal as a method of ensuring that company assets are protected and used responsibly. Depending on legislation related to your jurisdiction and industry there may be additional legal requirements surrounding topics such as informed consent from employees, establishing a legitimate business need, and protecting employee monitoring data.

How to Use Spy Software for PC Legally

  1. Informed Consent: Even if the Windows spy software themselves will be running in discretely, the best practice is to forewarn monitored users that monitoring measures are taking place. To demonstrate that informed consent has been achieved, written acknowledgments of acceptance for monitoring policies should be maintained.
  2. Legitimate Need: When implementing spy software for your PCs, you must ensure that the tracking that is taking place has a legitimate business use. Excessive monitoring without a valid basis may be considered a violation of privacy-related legislation. 
  3. Proportionality: After establishing your legitimate business needs for monitoring employees, you should review the benefits of the solution against the privacy impact on your employees. If less invasive monitoring measures can achieve the same results, it is best to adjust your monitoring method accordingly.
  4. Appropriate Use: Just as you need a legitimate need to monitor employees, you must also ensure that the data captured with informed consent is used responsibly and for the purpose that the consent was provided for. If you intend to use a computer spy program to ensure that technology and related assets are used appropriately, that same data should not also be used in performance appraisals. 
  5. Data Protection: Employee monitoring data should be treated as highly sensitive and secured appropriately. Depending on the features of the spy software there may be screenshots, sensitive search queries, or browsing history that is sensitive in nature. 
  6. Personal Devices: If your workplace allows employees to use personal devices for work – known as “Bring Your Own Devices” (BYOD) – these devices should not be monitored as there is a high risk to the privacy of the user.
  7. Remote Monitoring Software: If the monitoring software is intended for remote workforce management, the tracked devices must be company-owned. As an alternative, remote monitoring software that tracks how the users interact with the company network through remote access methods such as a VPN could be used.
screenshot of a workplace monitoring policy template

Workplace Monitoring
Policy Template

  • Disclose your company’s intent to monitor employees in the workplace
  • Set workplace privacy expectations for employees
  • Meet transparency requirements for compliance with privacy laws

Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.

Computer Spy Software for PC

BrowseReporter is a versatile computer user activity monitoring software that helps organizations enforce policies, meet compliance requirements, and understand how their users operate – no matter where they’re located.

BrowseReporter’s detailed user activity reports provide insights like…

  • Are our users following organizational policies? Are there any unwanted activities that need to be addressed?
  • How engaged are our users? Do they spend the majority of their time on-task? And…
  • Are our users making use of the software we’ve invested in? Should we reduce the number of licenses we pay for?

The computer activity data is collected by a software agent that is installed on your computers. The agent connects to a database on your organization’s network, allowing you to maintain complete control over the data.

BrowseReporter’s central console allows you to run reports on your user’s computer activities from the convenience of a web browser. 

There are dozens of reports to choose from, including…

  • User productivity reports with an overview of how much time was spent on websites that are productive, unproductive, or neutral. These classifications can be customized to match what is productive for your users.
  • There are also detailed internet activity reports that show you what websites your users have visited, how long they spent browsing each site, and the amount of bandwidth consumed.
  • And finally, the application usage reports show you what software is being used, how long it was used for, and who was using it.

BrowseReporter’s reports can be generated on-demand, on a set schedule, or automatically sent to your inbox to alert you of specific events.

Using the End-User Reports feature you can even provide your users with on-demand access to their own data. This lets them benefit from the insights that you have.

BrowseReporter can even be deployed with optional privacy-enhancing features.

You can…

  • Display a custom message to notify users that they are being monitored
  • Make the client visible in the system tray
  • Stop monitoring outside of standard operating hours, and…
  • Disable certain types of tracking altogether 

These optional features allow you to customize your BrowseReporter deployment to fit the needs of your organization.

BrowseReporter is best used in tandem with our web filtering software BrowseControl. Using both solutions provides you with the visibility and control you need to ensure that your organization’s computers are being used appropriately

Ready to make data-informed decisions? Get actionable insights into the activity of your users with a free trial of BrowseReporter.

Get started today by visiting CurrentWare.com/Download

If you have any questions during your evaluation our technical support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

Thank you!

CurrentWare’s award-winning computer monitoring software BrowseReporter allows you to remotely monitor a target PC from a convenient central console.

To get started, simply sign up for the the free trial, install the monitoring solution’s central console on the manager’s computer, then install the agent on the target computer. From the console you can use the software to monitor and control each monitored computer in your network.

BrowseReporter’s online and computer activity reports show you what your users are doing on their computers. You can review their web history, see what apps were used on their computers, and continue remote monitoring and control even when your users move to a new location.

Note: BrowseReporter can be installed on a Windows device, terminal server, or Citrix virtual desktop. It is not suitable for Mac monitoring at this time. To use it on a Mac computer you need to install it on a Windows VM. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to our system requirements

Track Websites Visited & Other Online Activity

Take Screenshots of User Computer Screens

BrowseReporter’s remote screen capture feature can be used for taking screenshots when specific apps or websites are used. That way, you can see exactly what was on their screen at the time.

Conclusion

Remote computer monitoring can be an effective tool for time tracking, detecting unsafe internet browsing, and ensuring that employees are using their devices appropriately. So long as the monitoring takes place with privacy and transparency at the forefront, your in-house and remote workers can be monitored as part of your productivity and data security strategy.


Improve Employee Productivity With BrowseReporter

“The employees find the reports to be an extremely helpful self-analysis tool, and use the reports to analyze and reconfigure priorities!”

Ready to get advanced insights into how your employees spend their time? Reach out to the CurrentWare team for a demo of BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s employee and computer monitoring software.

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.