Do You Have Internet Privacy At Work?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

Sometimes, when there’s a break or the work day is slow, it can be tempting to check on a couple different websites. In doing this, would anyone know what websites were visited? Other than the people around, who else would know what sites might have been visited? It may come at a surprise that there could be many different people later on – or even immediately – that find out about the websites that were visited.

It is common for workplaces to have a firewall that prevents certain websites from being visited. Along with blocking certain websites, firewalls usually keep track of all the different websites that have been visited and by who.

Any time a website is visited that has been blacklisted (blocked), this usually triggers an alert to the IT department or management, so they can look over who tried to connect to a blacklisted site. From there, if IT or management feel it is necessary, they could look over the entire history of websites that were visited by a user or a group of users.

Now, let’s say for some odd reason that the business does not have a firewall or other device that keeps records of websites visited – could websites that were visited still be discovered?

Well, the computer someone uses also keeps records of websites that they have been visiting, which can be accessed by IT.

Some clever users might be able to remove their footprints from their workstation computer, but they may not have access to something like that.

There is another way that websites visited from a workplace can be tracked without a firewall or looking into the computer files.

If the websites visited warrant any legal action or an investigation is happening at the company, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) can release any and all records of websites visited and exact information of what was done. There is no way to get around this as you need an ISP to use the internet.

There are even more ways to find out what websites are being visited than what was mentioned here. In short, if someone at the office is using the work Internet, it is more than possible that every website visited is being kept track of in one way or another.

If you follow the rules of your workplace and visit only the type of websites allowed by the work place, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. As a rule of thumb, you should only visit sites and do things that you don’t mind the public or workplace knowing about. If you ever see “NSFW” (Not Safe for Work), do not visit or have anything to do with it while on the work Internet.

Only surf the Internet when you are allowed to surf the internet. Don’t visit websites or open emails where the main site or email sender is unknown. With these tips in mind and a better awareness of how a person can be tracked on a business network, you can make better choices while on the company’s Internet.

The Hidden Cost Of Internet Misuse At Work

Using the Internet for personal purposes in the workplace is causing a dip in employee productivity and costing money for the business owner.

Internet abuse constitutes an issue due to the fact that the browsed content raises ethical questions and often the sites visited are not allowed through office policies.

This is in addition to the fact that the time and frequency of accessing the Internet compromises productivity.

What constitutes Internet abuse?
Workplace Internet abuse is a significant risk factor for employer liability, costing employers’ valuable hours of work.

Internet abuse ranges from viewing pornography in private c472520_moffices to spending hours on social sites, playing online games, shopping online and paying bills through the company Internet.

Other consequences of improper Internet use include litigation, such as sexual harassment, hostile work environments and discrimination.

Revoking privileges
One way to deal with this problem is to entirely remove Internet access. Unfortunately, such a decision has the negative effect of punishing those who don’t abuse the privilege.

In addition, it’s impossible to completely banish personal Internet usage when the business relies heavily on Internet for communication, research and up-to-date information.

Monitoring usage
One way to reduce employer liability is to monitor and filter employee Internet use.
Although there are disagreements about the principle behind Internet monitoring, many employers agree that it is a necessary ‘evil.’

This solution requires some investment and changes in the networking infrastructure but can provide an almost immediate Return on Investment (ROI).

A phased implementation approach works best. Let your employees know you’re making a change, implement, and then give them a few days to adjust.

It is also necessary to draft an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), implementing rules of personal Internet use before implementing such a change.

If you want to discuss internet monitoring solutions for your business, please give us a call for a free assessment.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Internet Monitoring Software Can Boost Office Productivity

It goes without saying the Internet is a very useful tool that most of us use on a daily basis at work. I have a number of clients who have software applications that are web based and require all employees to have web browsers open and active all day long.

The Internet can be a very useful place. It gives you the ability to find just about anything you could ask for. It can also lead to distractions and temptations. Say you want to check the final score of the game you were watching last night.

One click of the mouse and you can have all the latest sports scores and stories. Worse yet, the IM chatting (instant messaging) and Facebook browsing can fill your day as opposed to the work you are getting paid to do.

As a result, there are software packages available that can monitor and report what someone has been looking at, or looking for, on the Internet.

More and more companies are concerned about what their employees use the Internet for, and more importantly, what they are doing while they are “on the clock”.

These software packages, such as Spectorsoft, can be loaded onall computers on a network, and gives  business owners the ability to record emails, chats, IMs, websites, web searches, programs run, keystrokes typed, files transferred, screen snapshots.

Literally everything that is done on that computer can be reviewed at a moment’s notice at anytime.

Some may think that this is an invasion of privacy, but please keep in mind: Private things are best left at home.

Websites such as Facebook and MySpace can be wrought with viruses and can cause a problem on a company’s network.

I’ve used these types of monitoring programs to review screenshots once a problem has occurred to determine the cause of the problem, and see exactly what the user was doing when the infection occurred. Beyond reporting, these software packages retain the user-level investigative tools that a lot of clients have grown to rely on.

If you detect a problem or suspect a specific employee is the main culprit of abuse, you can dig deeper and review every detail of the computer and Internet activity to gather the evidence you need.

The level of detail is so precise that you can see what an employee does each and every second, and even include screen shots of the activity whenever the employee is on a certain website, or logged into a certain chat program.

Not only can you record and monitor Internet activity, record instant message chats, and websites visited, but you can also block porn, other adult content or other web sites that aren’t work related.

Legally speaking, to install monitoring software on a computer, you have to meet one of two requirements: You have to own the computer, or you have to notify all users that they’re being monitored.

If you feel you need to deploy such a tool on your network, do not hesitate to call Tech Experts, and we can recommend the right software package for you.

Tracking Down “Bandwith Hogs” – Should You Monitor Employee Internet?

For many businesses, tracking employees use of software and the Internet is an absolute necessity for employers who are juggling productivity with employee privacy while trying to remain competitive in an increasingly fierce market.

Many computer professionals consider the problem to be crucial in today’s market.

What do you do if you’re an employer, and you want to retain your employees? You must keep salaries high, or they will go else-where. But you also can’t raise your prices, or you will be outpriced by competitors.

The answer is to increase productivity. You look around the office but don’t see people wandering the halls or talking at the water cooler. Everyone’s at their computers. The question is, what are they doing at their computers?

There is much anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the growth of personal use of computers during business hours, and there are many programs that track the URLs that employees visit, how much time they spend online, and the amount of bandwidth that Internet use is taking up.

They also allow employers to monitor which non-Internet programs employees use.

Programs like these gives employers a snapshot to show how much activity is spent on non-administrative activity.

Some critics see monitoring of employee Internet use as something of an invasion of privacy, but workplace security experts disagree. These programs can tell that an employee is spending four hours a day on eBay, but won’t disclose the actual activity on it.

It can tell if someone is consistently downloading unusually large files, but doesn’t disclose the contents of the individual’s e-mail.

Many monitoring programs also can tell if employees are spending large amounts of time playing Elf Bowling or Tetris instead of working, and whether more official programs that the company has purchased are being used. If they’re not, then further purchases may be a waste of money.

The primary purpose of the software is not to penalize employees for “unofficial” Internet use but rather to pinpoint problem areas in weak-performing employees and to locate “bandwidth hogs” whose overuse of the Internet slows down everyone’s work.

Tech Experts offers several solutions to filter, monitor and report on Internet use on a company’s network.

Call us today at (734) 457-5000 (toll free 888-457-5001) for more informataion.