Monitoring Internet Activities
What is Internet Monitoring?
Internet monitoring is the practice of collecting and analyzing the data of websites visited by users, departments, or individual devices. In the context of employee monitoring, this data is often gathered into reports for review by business owners, human resources, and management to address bandwidth usage, employee productivity, and inappropriate workplace Internet usage.
Internet Monitoring vs Internet Filtering
In the employee monitoring space, there are software tools for both Internet monitoring and Internet filtering. While each of these tools will likely coincide as part of enforcing an acceptable use policy within your workplace, they serve notably different functions.
The Goals of Employee Monitoring
Software used to monitor employees have a variety of potential functions depending on the needs of your organization.
Improve Employee Productivity
Employee monitoring software often includes options for tracking time spent on individual tasks, applications and/or websites. The purpose behind tracking productivity is clear - you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Employee Internet monitoring reports provide a valuable data-driven baseline to manage employee productivity by measuring project progress and employee output alongside trends in their Internet browsing habits
Employee Internet monitoring reports can act as an important tool in conjunction with other metrics when addressing employee productivity during coaching or performance reviews.
When there is a noticeable decline in an employee’s engagement or productivity you can review their browsing data to identify trends in how their Internet browsing habits have changed and have an open discussion about their workplace satisfaction, productivity blocks, and job expectations.
Managing Your Employees Effectively
One of the key benefits of implementing software-based employee monitoring is that you can collect the data you need to make informed decisions when managing your employees, giving you another avenue for staying in touch with trends in your workforce during moments where you cannot always be there in person.
Do you know How your Employees are Spending Their Time?
Aside from understanding the non-work browsing habits of your workforce, employee monitoring software can give you insights into how your employees interact with the devices on your networks with reports for not only Internet usage but software application usage as well.
If you typically expect that the majority of your customer service department’s workdays would be spent using your helpdesk software application, you may be surprised to see a sudden spike in their Internet usage or an unexpected drop in their helpdesk software usage - is the helpdesk down? Are your employees suddenly on strike or are they frantically searching the Internet for troubleshooting and customer support numbers? With employee monitoring software you can configure alerts when usage activity falls out expectations, giving you insights into these sort of unexpected changes in your workforce.
Balance their Workloads
If your software for employee monitoring allows for reports based on user or device groups, you can organize your monitoring data into departments or project teams to compare their Internet and application usage to that of your other teams/departments to determine if workloads need to be adjusted. If a given department is frequently an outlier for excessive non-work Internet usage it may indicate that that department is either blocked in their tasks or they are underworked in comparison to your other teams/departments.
Keep an eye on your Remote Workers
Remote workers can sometimes have a difficult time having their contributions noticed and demonstrating that they are working at a level that is expected of them. By monitoring both your in-house and remote workers you can readily compare your reports from both arms of your organization to ensure they are matching expectations.
For remote workers that use their personal computer as a workstation, employee monitoring software can be configured to only capture specific types of data or only capture data during working hours, allowing you to maintain your standard monitoring practices while respecting their privacy.
To block or not to block
With most employee monitoring software you have the option to either proactively prevent access to websites that are deemed inappropriate for your workplace or you can have website access reports generated for review, giving you the flexibility you need to monitor employee Internet usage in the way you see fit for your organization.
When potentially inappropriate websites are accessed by your employees, an employee monitoring software can generate reports and automatically send them to designated persons or departments that have a legitimate business need for that data such as data controllers/processors, managers, information technologists (IT), or human resources (HR) staff.
Whether a given website or website category is monitored or filtered depends on your reasons for monitoring Internet activities, your organization's needs and values, and the nature of the websites that are being accessed by your employees.
Websites that clearly have no legitimate business reason for being accessed at work in most workplaces (such as pornography or dating websites) are often proactively filtered to prevent access altogether in an effort to not only prevent distractions and increase productivity, but also to prevent the formation of a hostile work environment should employees be negatively affected by their coworker’s access to inappropriate websites.
How to Prevent Excessive Usage of Distracting Websites with Internet Monitoring Software
If you do not wish to explicitly block access to certain websites or website categories, you can approach your employee monitoring and productivity strategy by monitoring for excessive usage of non-work websites rather than blocking those websites entirely.
- Set specified limits for how long a given website can be used per day
- Use time-based filtering to prevent access to websites outside of designated hours (breaks, before their shift, before peak working hours)
- Have your Internet monitoring software alert management of excessive non-work Internet usage only after your determined threshold is exceeded (time spent as a percentage or after a determined amount of hours/minutes
Website Categories That Are Often Monitored
The websites that are monitored by your organization will likely fall into general categories. Many employee monitoring software solutions can be configured to generate reports when websites within this category are accessed, alerting you to employees that are using your organization's network inappropriately.Common categories include: Adult-Oriented, Sexually Explicit/Pornographic Content, Vulgar Themes/Profanity, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, Gambling, Dating, Chats, Computer Games, Hate, Humor, Malicious Websites, Virus Infected Sites, Phishing Scams, Spam, Social Media, Warez Sites, Torrents, Software Cracks, Online Piracy, Illegal Video Streaming,
How to Address Objections To Employee Monitoring?
The world of employee monitoring is a bit of a double-edged sword. As an employer you want to keep your data and systems secure and use the data you collect to better manage your workforce, but for your employees the feeling of having an all-seeing eye watching over them might make cause privacy concerns or the feeling that they aren’t trusted to manage their own workstyles.
The key to a successful employee monitoring strategy is to foster employee buy-in. Your employees need to know that their privacy is respected, that they are trusted, and that the data collected isn’t going to be used as the only context for validating their performance.
When you develop your employee monitoring policy, it helps to get feedback from your employees and really show them the benefits of your strategy. By giving your employees an element of input during the process they’ll feel less like employee monitoring is being forced on them and more like they had an opportunity to contribute to the development of a policy that is fair for both parties.
Be As Transparent As You Possibly Can
For your employees, one of the scary things about being monitored is that they may not realize exactly what is being monitored and how their monitoring data is going to be used. By making the values, execution, and intent of your employee monitoring strategy perfectly clear to everyone who is going to be monitored you can reduce the feelings of anxiety that stem from uncertainty employees may feel about your intentions.
Here are some things your employees might want to know:
- What data is being captured - screenshots, keystrokes, websites visited,etc
- How is their data being captured?
- Why are you monitoring them? Is there a legitimate business use for monitoring?
- How will you protect the data that you capture?
- How will their data be used.
Set Clear Goals For Your Employee Monitoring Strategy
Employees need to have a clear understanding of the goals and benefits of your employee monitoring strategy. Let your employees know why employee monitoring is necessary for your organization - are you trying to ensure compliance with data privacy laws? Are you securing company data by mitigating and detecting insider threats? Are you concerned about inappropriate usage of company Internet and bandwidth?
Whatever your reason for employee monitoring, make it loud and clear so your employees can better understand how it plays a part in keeping the organization operating at its best.
Allow Employees to Access Their Personal Monitoring Data
It’s one thing to tell your employees what data you collect on them, and it’s an entirely different thing to truly show them what is being collected. If your employee monitoring software allows you to share reports, you may wish to give employees the option to request to see the data collected on them so they can truly understand what is being collected.
Monitor Everyone Equally (Including You!)
One of the best ways to increase employee buy-in for your monitoring strategy is to treat everyone fairly. Do not single out a specific employee or department for monitoring unless there is a legitimate business reason to do so as employees may feel resent towards you and the organization for singling them out.
If you really want to make an impact on the trustworthiness of how employee monitoring is used in your organization, set a good example for by monitoring your own devices first! When you demonstrate your confidence in the benefits of employee monitoring by including yourself, you give hesitant employees an opportunity to feel like everyone is on equal ground when it's their turn to be brought in to the monitoring ecosystem.
Only Monitor What is Needed
Employee monitoring is unique for every organization, and yours is no exception. While it may be tempting to purchase the most advanced, fully-featured software and gather as much data as possible just in case, is it truly necessary for your needs?
If you attempt to collect and analyze more data than you need, you are more likely to suffer from information overload or paralysis by analysis as you retroactively attempt to decide what is relevant to you. While employee monitoring software will typically allow you to filter the data you collect to better make sense of it all, the risks of getting too involved in irrelevant data is still present and you risk needlessly collecting the sorts of data that can make your employees feel uncomfortable.
Get Informed Consent From Monitored Employees
Depending on the legislation that governs your business, informed consent may be mandatory. For example, Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires employers that monitor employees to explicitly disclose the fact that they are being monitored and how the monitoring is being executed (security cameras, Internet monitoring software, etc).
Even if there are no laws that specifically require that you disclose to employees that they are being monitored, it is the best practice to do so anyway. When implementing an employee monitoring solution, get explicit and informed consent from your employees that they are going to be monitored. How in-depth you explain the process is up to the discretion and unique needs of your organization, however where possible it is best to be as open as possible and even go so far as to have employees read and sign an employee monitoring policy. If your employees are to trust in your employee monitoring strategy, they need to know that their data is being handled safely.
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Privileged Access Management (PAM)
In the context of employee monitoring, Privileged Access Management (PAM) can be as simple as configuring custom credentials for users that need to access your employee monitoring data and filtering the data that is available based on who is accessing it.
The data of employees or departments should be limited to access for only a select few people that would genuinely need access to that data to perform their work functions, such as the immediate manager of that department and human resources staff.
Should Employee Monitoring Data be Stored Locally or on the Cloud?
Depending on your chosen employee monitoring software, your provider will either allow you to store your captured data on a computer/server that remains on-premises, or they may have you store your data on their servers.
As you consider your options, it is important to be aware that there are inherent risks and benefits of both options and the option you choose will be heavily influenced by your budget, data privacy priorities, and quantity of data captured.
BrowseReporter - Employee Internet Monitor
BrowseReporter provides an in-depth analysis for monitoring Internet activities and usage of your employees. It features extensive reports and charts on your employee’s web browsing activity.
The Report Manager offers the flexibility of analysing the data based on your employee’s Internet activity. Reports such as sites visited, duration of visit, time of visit and bandwidth consumption are presented at both the detail and summary levels.
BrowseReporter can track the Internet activity of a specific user. If an employee or a student uses multiple computers, BrowseReporter will track the browsing activity of this user on all the corresponding computers.
All monitoring and tracking on internet activity BrowseReporter does is always in stealth so that users in your network won't know their internet usage is being monitored unless they are told so.
Getting Started in 3 Simple Steps
Download & install CurrentWareOn the administrator’s computer, Run the CurrentWare.exe from the CurrentWare.zip to begin your installation.
Manage your users & computersDeploy the CurrentWare Client on all the computers you want to control, using Active Directory, SCCM or our built-in deployment tool.
Control & meet complianceAfter the installation, you will see all of your computers on the CurrentWare Console. Apply the appropriate settings & policies to manage and monitor your users.
Monitoring Internet Activities Sample Reports
Here are some samples of the 18 reports BrowseReporter can generate for Monitoring Internet Activity in your network