How Do Employers Track Internet Usage?

With more and more workers logging in remotely, employers can still monitor their attendance, computer behaviors, and internet usage through routine employee monitoring software. 

There are many different ways to track employee internet usage, so each company can employ a different method. Here is how employers track internet usage and more.

What is Online Employee Tracking?

Online employee tracking, also known as remote employee tracking or digital employee monitoring, refers to the practice of monitoring and tracking employees’ work-related activities and performance when they are working remotely or using online tools and platforms. It involves using software and technologies to track and gather data on employees’ digital interactions and work habits.

The 5 most common methods for tracking employees online include:

  1. Time tracking software: Time tracking tools allow employees to log their work hours and track the time spent on specific tasks or projects. They may include features like screenshots, activity levels, and idle time monitoring.
  2. Project management software: These platforms help track the progress and status of tasks and projects. They often include features that allow managers to monitor employee workloads, task completion rates, and project timelines.
  3. Communication and collaboration tools: Tools like instant messaging platforms, video conferencing software, and project collaboration platforms can be used to track employee communication, collaboration, and responsiveness.
  4. Web and application monitoring: Employers may use software to monitor employees’ internet usage and track the websites and applications accessed during work hours. This can help ensure compliance with company policies and prevent unauthorized activities.
  5. Performance analytics: Performance tools analyze employee productivity, efficiency, and output based on the data collected from various tracking sources. They can generate reports and insights to evaluate individual and team performance.

How Does Internet Tracking Work?

Among the different types of software and methods for tracking internet usage, there are several ways it can be done. Most depend on the level of control the employer has over the employee. 

Employers with more access can access more information on the computer. These situations typically mean that the employer supplies a work computer or has remote access to the employees’ computer behaviors through computer system monitoring. 

Only less invasive methods include tracking activity in shared software. Productivity software performs in this way. This means that the employer would only see the behaviors in the software. However, it can still be an indicator of when projects were completed, how activities were completed, and more.  

The best internet tracking software is one that is installed on an employee’s computer. This software will perform basic behavior tracking to identify when employees access internet applications when they send messages, emails that are sent, and files that are uploaded or downloaded. This comprehensive software allows employers to see more of what their employees are doing while on company time. 

How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work for Tracking Internet Usage?

Employee monitoring software designed to track internet usage typically works by installing a monitoring agent or application on the employee’s computer or network. The software then captures and logs data related to the employee’s internet activities. 

Here’s a general overview of how it works:

  • Installation: The employer installs the monitoring software on the employee’s computer or network. This can be done manually or remotely, depending on the software’s capabilities and the organization’s IT infrastructure.
  • Data collection: The monitoring software tracks and records various aspects of internet usage, such as websites visited, URLs accessed, time spent on each site, and specific web pages viewed. It may also capture data on file downloads and uploads, emails, chat messages, and other online communications.
  • Data storage: The collected data is typically stored securely either on the employee’s computer or on a centralized server managed by the employer. The software may compress and encrypt the data to protect its confidentiality.
  • Reporting and analysis: The monitoring software generates reports and provides analytics based on the captured data. These reports can include information on websites visited, time spent on different activities, productivity levels, and potential policy violations.
  • Alerts and notifications: Some monitoring software allows employers to set up alerts or notifications for specific activities or events. For example, they may receive an alert if an employee visits a prohibited website or engages in excessive non-work-related browsing.

It’s important to note that the specific features and capabilities of employee monitoring software can vary depending on the software provider and the organization’s requirements. Employers should establish clear policies regarding internet monitoring, inform employees about the monitoring practices, and respect privacy rights and legal regulations related to employee monitoring in their jurisdiction.

What is the Best Way to Protect Company Data and Defend Against Time Theft?

Monitoring internet usage is not easy. It actually takes a multi-pronged approach to defense mechanisms and proactive measures. 

To protect company data and defend against time theft, it is important to implement a comprehensive approach that combines various strategies and practices. Here are some best practices to consider:

Strong Data Security Measures

Strong data security is important for ensuring that company data does not get stolen. Ways to do this include implementing a robust access control system so that only authorized personnel can access certain data. If anyone not authorized accesses the data, then configure the system to alert the administrator. 

Also important are strong password policies, like regularly changing passwords and creating complex ones, as well as multi-factor authentication, both of which add an extra layer of security for accessing critical systems and data.

Finally, it’s also important to use encryption to protect data both at rest and in transit, and to regularly update and patch systems like software, operating systems, and security patches to address vulnerabilities.

Employee Training And Awareness

Not every system is perfect. For businesses tracking employees for performance and security purposes, there is a level of training and awareness required. Educate employees on data security best practices, such as strong password management, identifying phishing emails, and avoiding suspicious websites or downloads.

You’ll also want to raise awareness about the importance of time management and discourage time theft practices to improve employee performance. Set and provide clear guidelines on acceptable computer and internet usage so your employees understand what is expected of them.

Employee Monitoring Software

Use remote employee monitoring software to track and analyze employees’ work activities, including internet usage, to identify potential time theft or inappropriate behavior.

Of course, it’s important to ensure that monitoring practices comply with legal requirements and respect employees’ privacy rights. One step here is to transparently communicate with employees regarding monitoring policies.

Implement Strong Policies and Tracking Procedures

The best tracking systems have a monitoring and tracking policy. This helps administrators with acceptable guidelines, compliance, and communication requirements. So be sure to develop and enforce clear policies and procedures regarding data security, acceptable computer usage, and time management, and regularly communicate these with your employees. 

Your policies should include regular auditing of data access and usage to identify any anomalies or unauthorized access attempts. Also, take the time to review time tracking records and compare them with reported hours to detect any discrepancies or patterns of time theft.

Secure Remote Work With Remote Monitoring Software

With remote work on the rise, it’s important to continue to track internet usage to keep your data safe. Establish secure remote access protocols, including VPNs and secure connections, for employees working remotely. Implementing endpoint security measures, such as firewalls, antivirus software, remote monitoring software, and device encryption, will safeguard data on remote devices.

Keep Track of Employee Internet Usage With SoftActivity

While the internet is necessary for most job functions, it can also present your company with issues. Malware, time theft, and more can present themselves, and monitoring internet usage with sophisticated employee monitoring software is one of the best ways to safeguard your company and improve your productivity.

If you are ready to track employee internet usage, improve security, and boost productivity, try SoftActivity today!

By SoftActivity Team.

June 12th, 2023