Monitoring employee’s PC
Monitoring employee’s PC becomes more and more common. Employers want to know what employees are doing on their work computers and secure their reputation and business against potential damage. This practice is understandable from the employers point of view, but maybe seen as an unlawful or not trustworthy thing to do from the employee’s point of view.
Either way, monitoring employee activities on business computers is mostly legal these days. This can change in the future, as more and more employers are being sued for that.
Here I will give you an overview over the most common ways an employee can be monitored. There are always ways to protect yourself as an employee against such software. If you know what to look for then there is always a way to disable the threat.
- Keylogging: Keystroke logging is a monitoring technique where all the keys struck on a keyboard are logged into a file. The person using the keyboard is often unaware that their actions are being monitored. This software is legal if it is stored on a computer and the results are not transmitted through the internet. An example of such keylogger software is Spytector. The developers claim the software is undetectable for antivirus, is encrypted and can not be uninstalled easily. It can be really hard to find this software on your computer unless you know about it. Check your employee handbook. Archiving passwords without employees knowing it can be illegal.
- Track internet activities: An employer can either track all internet activity, including which sites an employee visits and how much time spends on each site or restrict the usage. Restricting some websites is the most common approach along with bandwidth consumption control. Setting up restrictions on bandwidth allows you to restrict employees time watching movies and TV. Be advised if this is a part of their job or motivation.
More and more employers start tracking everything an employee do on the internet and archive it. It includes posting on social networks. If an employee posts something on Facebook and then takes it down – everything is archived by the employer. Tracking internet usage at network gateway / firewall level can’t be avoided by the employee. You can check whether it’s being done. But in this case an employer can, in theory, track almost all internet activities, even activities within secure connections. As almost all computers the employees are using are prepared by the IT department. And during this setup, they can install their own root SSL certificate. This way the network gateway can intercept all network traffic, secure or not. Most employers do some network filtering, either through a proxy or a transparent proxy.
If an employer is tracking more than that, then it should be installed on the computer itself. In this case such software can be seen in process explorer or detected by external antivirus program.
Online searches is also a popular feature in internet surveying. The software saves all the search words and phrases that the user types into a search engine.
- User activity and inactivity: An employer can track how much time an employee spends on its computer.
- Email activity: During tracking of email activity, the employer archives all the emails sent and received by employee. Many software programs do it not only for work email, but also track personal emails sent via online services like Gmail and Yahoo. If an employee would like to know whether the boss is reading email, he can use software to track back, like emailprivacytester.com or ReadNotify.On the other hand, email is managed by the employer. And the IT department always has access to company email and resources.
- Record Chat and IM: This is a type of monitoring when all chat and other instant messaging conversations from both sides are being recorded and stored. This is fairly easily done even without any specific spyware. By default instant messaging systems save all chat history to some file either in the cloud or on the computer itself so that a user could review them anytime. The task for the employer will be to copy this file from your computer.
- Document and files tracking: Tracking documents includes information about what documents were being opened and edited, saved and deleted. File tracking monitors movement of files, whether they were being sent by email, printed or copied to external drive.
- Application and program tracking: See which applications are being used, installed and uninstalled. Which programs are running and what they are doing. This can prevent employees to use vpn, torrent and other services. This can also make sure the employee has enough software licenses. Being caught pirating software is very embarrassing for an employer.
- Screen capture: Remote screen capturing takes snapshot of the employees screen from time to time so that an employer can track what an employee is doing in real time. This can slow down some computers though, and is more easily to be detected by the employee. Such remote tracking software will often show up in a list of running processes and an employee can always try to stop it by killing the process.
- Location tracking: Supervisors may choose to track the device’s location. This is usually done if the employee doesn’t have a fixed work location or if the device is very valuable. Such software needs internet connection to send the data so it’s rarely done on computers.
If you are looking for some sort of employee monitoring you should make a detailed research on what are your needs. There are many software packages out there that give you all of it and a little bit more “in one”.
Don’t know how to do it yourself? Hire help. Use local help like London it support or check out remote solutions.
It is not recommended to monitor employees if there is no actual need for it. Monitoring of employees creates distrust. Employers can also be sued, loose people who don’t like it or just be fooled around by the most clever ones, creating a false sense of control.