6 Key Surveillance Features of Internet Monitoring Software

Internet monitoring software is a surveillance program or service commonly used by enterprise companies and other organizations to provide an added protective measure against external threats and insider threats, seeking to gain access to sensitive company information. 

This software comes in all shapes and sizes.  Monitoring software apps may be used by a company to detect unusual behaviors, but it may also be used as a way to gather employee performance metrics and to boost employee productivity. 

If you are looking to use internet monitoring software for surveillance purposes, there are some key features that you need to consider.

surveillance software

But before we delve into the surveillance features, you need a better understanding of what internet monitoring software is. 

What is Internet Monitoring Software?

Internet monitoring software is a program installed on an employee computer that monitors employee behavior and internet usage in order to safeguard the computer and the networks that the computer is attached to. 

Internet monitoring software is also known as surveillance software because it can monitor unrecognized users or unauthorized users who are trying to gain access to a network or file, block unauthorized downloads, and restrict downloads that exceed a certain limit. 

Monitoring software can also identify when an employee is being productive during working hours. In order to provide all of these options, computer monitoring software supports the following features:

  • Keystroke logging: A keystroke is simply when a key on the keyboard is depressed. Keystroke logging will record the keystrokes that occur on a computer during a certain time period (usually work hours) and in designated apps or on designated web pages. 
  • Time tracking: Time tracking with internet monitoring software is specific not only to projects and tasks but also to the application or website that the user is on. With time tracking features you can identify how long it takes for a user to complete a task as well as check how long your employee was visiting Facebook or other social media websites. 
  • Communication tracking: Communication tracking allows users to record or monitor the communication that goes through select apps or websites. Email, instant messaging, or other communication apps can be tracked. 
  • Idle detection: motion detection is typically used to identify when an employee is not being productive when they should be, or to detect when user behavior is occurring on a computer which should not be taking place. 
  • Remote access and remote monitoring: An employee monitoring tool can be remotely installed onto a computer that has access to a given network or which can be remotely controlled. Therefore, this software can monitor remote employees to determine employee performance as well as to provide an added layer of protection for the personal network being used by the remote worker. 
  • Mobile device activity monitoring: Monitoring a mobile device is entirely optional, but this type of monitoring may be required if you believe that there is employee misconduct or negligence while on the clock. GPS tracking can track that mobile device so that you know where your employees are and when. You can also track electronic communication on that device to stop insider threats before they occur. And of course, many employees slack off on social media while on the phone thinking that the phone is not being monitored. Therefore, mobile device monitoring can be used to boost employee productivity. 
  • Time tracking: At its basic level, employee surveillance software is also used in order to boost productivity and keep track of employee time. Time tracking can be automated to start when an employee logs on to their computer, or it can be manual and require each employee to log when they are working on a task or project. 

Usually, this software is robust and will be tracking employee activity through behavioral analytics. This determines the normal employee behavior trends of each employee so that a company administrator can determine the types of activities that their employee normally participates in and when the behaviors deviate from this norm. 

In most jurisdictions, some level of computer monitoring in the workplace is legal, and it is actually required in certain industries or business transactions in order to abide by customer privacy laws. However, when using any type of workplace surveillance, your company needs to ensure that it complies with employee privacy laws and that you obtain employee consent where required.  

6 Key Surveillance Features of Internet Monitoring Software

If you are interested in employee monitoring software for surveillance, then you will need to consider the goals of your surveillance system. 

Typically these goals include:

  • Comprehensive network monitoring
  • Monitoring employee activity to identify insider threats

A surveillance system should include surveillance features for both of these goals. Here’s how to do so with internet monitoring software:

1. Unauthorized access alerts and restricted data transfers

Your sensitive data is usually password protected and would only allow users with privileges to enter into those restricted areas. This type of monitoring can boost productivity (in the case that an employee is downloading information for personal reasons), protect against insider threats, and protect against external data breaches.

If a user who does not have privileges somehow gains access to this restricted area, then this will alert you to a data breach. If a user has privileged access to a file or network area and they access that area at a time that is abnormal, you will also be alerted to this. 

If any data transfers are made with this data, your internet monitoring software will alert you to this movement as well as restrict the data transfer from occurring. This will stop disgruntled employees or external threats from downloading sensitive data and moving it to a space where it would be less suspicious. If you want to limit any data transfers, then you can set an alert for the admin to be notified when an attempt is made to transfer any amount of data.  

2. User activity monitoring (behavioral analytics)

Behavioral analytics in employee monitoring is tracking and recording user behavior to develop a trend for activity. This type of monitoring can boost productivity, protect against insider threats, and protect against external data breaches.

Examples of behavior trends might include an employee logging on at the same time every day. A sudden deviation from that time and pattern of behavior might indicate that they are either on vacation, doing something illegal, or someone has compromised their account. 

There are several ways that employee monitoring software can detect user activity. This can include: keystroke logging, taking screenshots of a computer, timesheet tracking, and running the camera feed to see if the employee is actually working. 

3. Communication tracking

Communication tracking is primarily used in detecting insider threats. This involves reading the conversations that an employee has through email, instant messaging, or another communication client. This type of monitoring can boost productivity and protect against insider threats.

Communication tracking can be done manually (by reading through transcripts) but you can also suggest keywords. The employee monitoring software will then alert the admin to keystrokes that use the given keywords. 

4. Internet usage monitoring

Internet usage monitoring involves monitoring the user’s network, IP address, and computer internet access in order to determine whether or not that employee is either vulnerable to an external attack or facilitating a data breach. This type of monitoring can boost productivity, protect against insider threats, and protect against external data breaches.

Typical behaviors that it monitors might include bandwidth monitoring, which would limit the file size of one file to be below a certain threshold. It may also mean that the total file size of all the files downloaded in a given time period must be below a certain threshold. Anything that deviates from this will be automatically blocked. Alerts can also be sent to the admin console so that the administrator is aware of these infringements. 

5. Time tracking

An employee monitoring software will track time spent on a project as long as the employee manually tracks time. However, on the back end, the monitoring software will also track the amount of time that an employee spends on a website or application. 

So, you can monitor whether or not your employees are being honest, the time it takes for a project to be completed, and the time they spend doing not work-related tasks. 

Employee activity monitoring does not necessarily revolve around trends or behavioral analytics. It can simply monitor time management. It goes a long way in promoting behaviors that are geared towards productivity, and time tracking for better time management is one of these ways.

6. GPS tracking

GPS tracking is a surveillance feature typically tied to a mobile device that is used for work purposes. Depending on the usage, this type of monitoring can boost productivity (if your employee is not actually on a client call but instead at the nail salon), protect against insider threats, and protect against external data breaches.

If you are worried that your employee is compromised and that they might be selling your data to an external agent, then you can enable GPS tracking and track their geographical movement, on or off the clock. 

How Does Employee Monitoring Software Work for Surveillance?

If you are like most companies and you handle sensitive information, including banking information of clients and employees, intelligence information, and intellectual property, then you are required to protect this information through a secure firewall, secured network, encryption, HTTPS connection, and multi-factor authentication. In addition to these barriers, companies should adopt certain forms of employee monitoring. 

Employee monitoring is a type of employee surveillance that monitors employee activities to detect and prevent insider threats and to catch external intruders before sensitive data is stolen. Employee monitoring can also mean workplace monitoring, such as video surveillance or IP camera, security guards, alarms, locks, electronic clocks, hierarchized privileged access, and other features. 

A strong security department will deploy a varied surveillance system so there is not just one surveillance tool in place. You should have a firewall in place, a secured network, a secure HTTPS connection, encryption methods, as well as physical security for data stored at a physical location. 

In addition to these measures, your IT department will then use employee monitoring software, which can detect when user activity occurs and when the user deviates from normal behavior patterns. Based on continual tracking and the ability for the read employee screens, employee monitoring software can go a long way in detecting unwanted errant behavior.

Key Surveillance Features of Internet Monitoring Software

Internet monitoring software can protect your company’s precious data. If you are looking to invest in internet monitoring software for surveillance, make sure that the software can:

  • Alert you whenever someone gains access to an unauthorized area
  • Restrict data transfer sizes
  • Monitor user behaviors using behavioral analytics
  • Record employee communication
  • Monitor your employees’ internet usage
  • Enable GPS tracking

Lastly, you’ll want your software to provide clean and easy to read reports straight to your email. This function makes employee monitoring far easier than having to comb through loads of data. 

Consider using SoftActivity computer monitoring software for workstations and terminal servers. They have all these features, and others, so that you can stay on top of your security and your team’s productivity.

By SoftActivity Team

August 3rd, 2020