How to Monitor Employee Internet Use (Video)

Employee Monitoring -How to Monitor Internet Use

Employee monitoring software is a critical business tool for managing the acceptable use of the internet for on-site and remote workers. In this video CurrentWare’s managing director Neel Lukka provides the best practices for employee monitoring and an overview of how you can monitor employee internet use with BrowseReporter.

Later in this article we will also cover

  • The Benefits of Monitoring Employee Internet Use
  • How to Install Employee Monitoring Software
  • Workplace Privacy Tips for Employers

Video Transcription

Thanks for checking out the latest CurrentWare how-to video. Today we will cover how to monitor employee internet use.

We’re going to be using BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s employee internet 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.

Evaluating employee productivity with BrowseReporter

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

Employee Productivity Report

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.

Employee productivity report based on internet browsing

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.

Top Domains Visited Report - Employee Internet Activity

Employee time tracking with BrowseReporter

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:

  1. Active Time
  2. Total Time
  3. 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.

See what websites employees are visiting

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.

BrowseReporter Sites Visited report sports and entertainment websites listed.

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.

BrowseReporter Keywords Searched by Time report with 9 different keywords listed.

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.

Video Conclusion

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!

Product Overview: BrowseReporter Employee Internet Monitoring Software

BrowseReporter is a versatile computer 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
    warning message alerting employees that their computer activity is being tracked by BrowseReporter
  • Make the client visible in the system tray
    BrowseReporter client settings for employee monitoring - show in system tray selected
  • Stop monitoring outside of standard operating hours, and…
    BrowseReporter employee monitoring scheduler to limit tracking to work hours
  • Disable certain types of tracking altogether 
    Tracking options window for BrowseReporter employee monitoring software - checkboxes to disable tracking types

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

Conclusion

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!

The Benefits of Monitoring Employee Internet Use

Thanks for checking out the latest CurrentWare Video. In this video, we’re going to cover the reasons why you should monitor employee computer activity.

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 all of the software I demo today.

Employee monitoring involves understanding how your employees are using company provided technology during work hours. There are five main benefits and considerations to employee monitoring that we will cover today:

  1. Employee Productivity management
  2. Addressing inappropriate technology usage, legal liability, and compliance
  3. Managing cybersecurity and data loss prevention
  4. Understanding how remote workers / out of office users are engaging with technology
  5. Understanding bandwidth usage and limiting exposure and costs 

So let’s start off with how monitoring can help employee productivity. 

44% of employees admit to being distracted by the internet at work, and employees in the US have admitted to wasting 1-2 hours a day browsing the internet. 

How Can Monitoring Employee Computer Usage Improve Productivity? 

Employees that know they’re being monitored will avoid excessive personal usage of the internet and computer applications. In addition, in the event an employee is underperforming, employee monitoring reports on their computer activity can be used to help the employee understand their actions and enhance their productivity.

The second important reason to monitor activity is to address inappropriate internet usage & avoid legal liability. 

As compliance requirements increase for various businesses, industries & jurisdictions, employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are complying with regulations such as HIPAA, CCPA, CIPAA and GDPR. 

By enabling computer monitoring, you can ensure that your staff are complying with these requirements. In addition, by monitoring & setting alerts, you can instantly be notified if employees are visiting inappropriate websites such as pornography, adult or other websites.

The third reason to monitor computer activity is for cybersecurity purposes & to prevent data loss.

By knowing which websites an employee is visiting, which files are being downloaded or shared, and which external devices and endpoints are being used, company administrators can manage cyber security risks and data loss prevention efforts. 

Data breaches and associated risks can cost businesses millions of dollars in damages along with reputational risk, so being aware of these risks and monitoring them can provide significant benefits for every organization. In addition, by using alerts, and setting up risk profiles for users, you can audit activities and groups for questionable employee behavior.

Monitoring Remote Employee Internet Use

Due to Covid-19, the year 2020 has seen a significant shift to remote work for various companies and organizations. This brings us to our 4th reason to monitor an employee’s computer usage: remote workforce management. 

52% of CIOs surveyed suspect that one or more of their mobile workers have been hacked or caused a mobile security issue in the last 12 months. Employee monitoring software can be used to monitor for high-risk activity and verify that employee activity on company networks is legitimate. 

The final reason to monitor employees is for bandwidth management purposes. With CurrentWare’s BrowseReporter tool, you can determine who is hogging bandwidth by streaming videos and uploading/downloading excessively large files. 

Employees who are hogging bandwidth can slow down the entire network, negatively affecting the productivity of other employees and reducing the performance of business critical operations.

That’s it for this video. If you have any thoughts on this video or other reasons why computers should be monitored, feel free to comment below. 

If you’d like to give any of CurrentWare’s computer and device monitoring solutions a try, please check out our free trial at currentware.com/download or get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help!

How to Install Monitoring Software on Employee Computers

Hey Everyone. This is Mike here. I’m the technical specialist within CurrentWare.

And today in this video, I’m going to show you how to install CurrentWare for your company use. After we complete this tutorial you will be able to monitor and control your user’s computers from the CurrentWare central management console.

If you would like to learn how to deploy CurrentWare for remote users, that topic is going to be covered in another tutorial. Please see the CurrentWare knowledge base at Currentware.com/Support for more details.

First, let’s go over how CurrentWare works.

CurrentWare operates on a client/server model. 

The CurrentWare Console and Server will be installed on a dedicated computer or server in your network. The Web Console allows you to manage your CurrentWare policies and run reports from the convenience of a web browser on any computer within your network.

After that, you will install the CurrentWare Clients on each computer that you want to monitor, control, or track. Once the clients are installed on your user’s computers they will appear in the Web Console where you can run reports on their computer activities and apply any policies that you would desire.

Your CurrentWare policies can be implemented on a per-user account basis or per-device level account basis. This ensures that the restrictions will apply to your users no matter what managed device they use.

To begin, we are going to install the CurrentWare Console and Server.

For this part you will need the CurrentWare Setup file, which I currently have highlighted. If you do not have this file, you can go to Currentware.com/Download/ and fill out the form.

Once we open it up here, we’re just going to press next. Here you’ll be able to see the licensing agreement. So you have to accept the terms of the licensing agreement and select next.

Here you can see we’re installing the Console and the Server. And it also shows the location of where it will be installed.

Hit next

Here, all 4 of the solutions are selected. So we’re just going to hit install. This will install the CurrentWare Console.

Great, you can see the installation is complete and now it is going to create the SQL database.

Now, you’re going to be prompted to create an account. This account is how you will log in to your CurrentWare Console. 

Once you’ve created the username, click “Add Operator”.

Here you can see the recommended exclusions for any third party antiviruses. You can see there’s 3 EXEs here and a couple ports to make sure that your CurrentWare software will run optimally.

Next, here we’re just going to finish up and it’ll launch the CurrentWare Web Console for you. And it prompts you to login. This login will be the login that it prompts you to create during the installation steps. 

Now that the CurrentWare Console and Server is installed, it’s time to deploy the CurrentWare Clients on each computer that you would like to manage.

There are 4 key methods used to deploy the CurrentWare Clients.

A local installation where you manually run the EXE on the computers you would like to manage

Using the built-in remote client installation tool

A remote installation using the command line

And a remote installation using the Active Directory group policy with an MSI or Batch file

In this video I will cover the first three methods. If you would like to learn how to deploy CurrentWare with Active Directory, you can find articles for this on our knowledge base at www.CurrentWare.com/Support.

Let’s get started with the Client installation 

Before we begin, make note of the hostname or IP address of the device that we just installed the CurrentWare server onto.

You can see that with the Web Console, this first part here is the hostname of my PC. It will be different for you, and it may even show an IP address.

Another simple way to get your computer name is to open the Command Prompt and type in hostname and it will show you your computer name.

The first installation we’ll go through is the local client installation. This is the simplest installation to do as it just requires you to run the cwClientSetup.exe file.

Enter that IP address or hostname of your server into this box.

Once we’re over here, we hit install. 

Great, the installation is finished! It’s recommended to push a restart through to your client computer after the install to ensure that everything installed properly.

The next method is to use the built-in remote client installation tool. This tool is a convenient way to remotely deploy the CurrentWare Client to all of the computers within your network in just a few steps.

The remote client installation tool is found within the legacy desktop console on the same computer where you installed the Web Console.

The current default file path for the legacy desktop console is to open your C drive, go to Program Files (x86) folder, the CurrentWare folder, the cwConsole folder, and run the cwConsole.exe application.

Before we begin, Windows Firewall and User Account Control (UAC) must be disabled on your target computers. 

Go to Install > Remote Client Install.

Here you can see the remote client install page. It shows you where the client is located, the file for installing it, the computer name of your server computer currently, and if you want to restart the client systems after the installation or not. 

Choose next. Type in the name of the computers that you want to add. Click “Add Computer”. So that’ll add my computer now. 

You can also import a list or you can use the search feature. The search feature will look on your network and find computers that are open for network sharing. It’s possible due to your setup that this feature may not work correctly if your network sharing is blocked.

Enter your username and password. If this is a domain, make sure that the domain user does have administrative privileges. You may also have to put the domain before the username.

Hit finish, and the installation is going to go out. If there’s any errors at this step, make sure to visit CurrentWare.com/Support to help with any of the error codes that you may receive. 

As you can see, my client has successfully installed with the remote client installation tool.

Lastly, let’s look at the command line deployment. The last method here is ideal for deployments with a large number of clients and you have a network drive available. 

We’ll move the CurrentWare install file to the root of your C drive, or onto the root of your network drive. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and start by typing the location of where you’ve placed it.

So you can see for me, it’s the root of my C drive; right at the front there. 

After that, you need a space and then you’re going to type ALLUSERS=1 USERPARAMS=”-p Admin  -ds (your computer or IP name)” /norestart /qn

/norestart which means the PC won’t restart after

/qn means it will install in the background

That’s it for today. If you have any other technical questions our support team would be happy to help you over the phone, via live chat, or over email. 

Simply visit CurrentWare.com/Contact to get in touch with us or visit CurrentWare.com/Support to access the self-serve knowledge base.

Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring

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.

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.

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is a Marketing Coordinator for CurrentWare, a global provider of endpoint security and employee monitoring software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.