Internet Monitoring in the Workplace

What is Internet Monitoring?

Internet monitoring is the practice of collecting and analyzing the data of websites visited by users, departments, or individual devices.

When monitoring employee internet use with internet monitoring software this data is gathered into reports for review by business owners, human resources, and management to address bandwidth usage, employee productivity, and inappropriate workplace internet usage.

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The Goals of Employee Internet Monitoring Software

Internet monitoring software has a variety of potential functions depending on the needs of your organization.

Improve Employee Productivity

Monitoring internet activity with a monitoring tool allows you to see how much time an employee spends on the internet during the work day. The purpose behind tracking employee productivity is clear – you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Employee Internet monitoring reports provide a valuable data-informed baseline to manage employee productivity by measuring project progress and employee output alongside trends in their Internet browsing habits.

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Productivity Coaching

Employee Internet monitoring reports can act as an important performance monitoring tool in conjunction with other metrics when addressing employee productivity during coaching or performance reviews.

When there is a noticeable decline in engagement or productivity you can track employee web activity 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 to monitor online activity 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.

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Know How Employees are Spending Their Time

Tracking employee web activity with employee internet monitoring software gives 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 internet 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 Workloads

If your employee monitoring tool 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.

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Confirm That It’s Legal to Monitor Remote Workers In Your Jurisdiction

Improve Visibility of 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.

Track Bandwidth Usage

Streaming a 4K Ultra HD Netflix video consumes 7GB of data per hour. Employees that misuse the internet in their workplace aren’t only harming their own productivity, they also strain the available bandwidth and make network speeds slower for their coworkers.

Your IT department can use internet monitoring software to track bandwidth usage for these unwanted bandwidth hogs so they can be addressed.

  • Internet Connectivity: Reduce latency by monitoring your network for users and computers with excessive bandwidth usage 
  • Network Upgrades: Collect the bandwidth usage data needed to determine whether upgrades are truly necessary or if the problem lies with the misuse of technology by a large number of users
  • Threat Detection: Detect unexpected bandwidth usage spikes caused by dangerous P2P file sharing programs and malicious software.
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Two bar charts: Top 5 Websites and Top 5 Groups
browsereporter computer activity dashboard with top 5 most used applications and websites listed

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 tracking employee web activity  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.

Learn More: How to Monitor Internet Usage

Website Categories That Are Often Monitored

The websites that are monitored by your organization will likely fall into general categories.

Many internet 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.

Sites visited by category report from BrowseReporter

Should You Block or Monitor Internet Use?

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 greater flexibility.

When potentially inappropriate websites are accessed by your employees, employee internet monitoring software can generate reports and send them to designated persons that have a legitimate business need for that data such as 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 environmen.

Learn More: Internet Monitoring Software vs Web Filtering Software

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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 monitor internet use 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.

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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?
  • How will you protect the data that you capture?
  • How will their data be used.

Learn More: 5 Ways Transparency is Key When Monitoring Employees in the Workplace

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 computer tracking 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.

Workplace monitoring policy template

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.

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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.

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,BrowseReporter – Employee Internet Monitoring Software

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 analyzing 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’s monitoring solution can monitor Internet activity of a specific user or computer. If an employee or a student uses multiple computers, BrowseReporter will track the browsing activity of this user on all the corresponding computers.

Flexible Deployment Options
On-Premises | Remote Workers | Self-Managed Cloud

Improve Productivity & Security in 3 Simple Steps

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Deploy the Software

Install the Console & Server on a computer, server, or a cloud platform of your choice. Then deploy the Clients to your users’ computers.

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Manage your Users

Organize your users/computers with AD sync or configure custom policy groups. Apply policies and run on their computer activities.

Internet Activity Monitoring Sample Reports

Here are some samples of the computer activity reports that the BrowseReporter monitoring solution can generate for monitoring internet activity
and application usage in your network

Employee productivity overview dashboard from BrowseReporter's data dashboard

Productive vs Unproductive Web Browsing

  • Review employee productivity at a glance based on the website categories in their web browsing history
  • Category rankings can be customized based on what is considered productive for your employees
  • Identify the unproductive websites that are most commonly abused by employees
Top 5 websites dashboard module

Track Websites Visited

  • View every website visited during any given time period

  • Sort data by date, active time, and total time

  • Filter data to show general domains or specific URLs

Bar chart showing the total time spend web browsing each day

Browsing Time

  • See which computers are used the most and which ones are under-utilized

  • Review which employees spend the most time on the internet

  • Aggregate browsing data to review overall internet usage within the company

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

Search Engine Queries

  • Review the exact search keywords used by employees

  • Identify employees that are distracted or struggling with specific topics

  • Discover employee sentiment and monitor for high-risk search terms

Two bar charts with employee computer usage data: top 5 active time and top 5 idle time

Idle vs Active Time

  • Monitor internet usage based on active time, idle time, and total time to see how long employees are away from their computers
  • Track active and idle times of employees based on how long it has been since they have used their mouse or keyboard
  • Start tracking idle time after the computer has been inactive for a set period of time

Download: Best Practices For Monitoring Employees

There are potential privacy concerns that your employees may have when you monitor their computer activity. By following these best practices you can monitor employee computer use while respecting workplace privacy laws.

Employee and Computer Monitoring Features

Internet Off

Internet Monitoring

Track detailed user web browsing activities on their computers

Reports

Web Activity Reports

20+ different detailed graphical and tabular reports

Application Blocker

Track App Usage

Track employee computer usage on Windows applications

Internet Off

Idle Time Tracking

Track mouse and keyboard movement to monitor inactivity

Bandwidth Tracker

Bandwidth Tracking

Find users that are hogging the network's bandwidth

Tracking Schedule

Tracking Scheduler

Only track URLs during specific time and days

Remote Screen Capture

Screenshot Monitoring

Take automatic screenshots or remotely view desktops

Email Report

Email Reports

Automatically email reports of employee web usage to managers

Category Filtering

URL Category Tracking

Understand where your users are surfing by tagging a URL category to every web page

Email Alert

Email Alerts

Send email alerts to authorities when user browsing has exceeded company web policies

Internet Off

End-User Reports

Provide your employees with on-demand access to their own user activity data

Stealth

Stealth & Transparent Modes

The software can run silently in the background or be configured to alert users

Internet Off

Centralized Console

Manage all your users from the
centralized console with Active
Directory import or syncing

Internet Off

Platform Security

Protect your CurrentWare console
with 2FA, passwords, privilege
management, and more

Internet Off

Offsite Management

Extend onsite Internet usage
policies to laptops running outside
the corporate network

Internet Off

SQL Server Supported

Database scaled for enterprise and
large business operations using
Microsoft SQL Server

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