SMB Security: Do You Need Employee-Monitoring Software? - Page 2

By Ronald Pacchiano
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Employee-Monitoring Software Options

Now that you know what an employee-monitoring program can do, you need to start evaluating different packages in order to determine the one best suited to your company's needs.

Two of the more well-known packages come from Spytech Software and Design. The first is Spytech SpyAgent. This software supports all of the features listed above, along with numerous others. Prices range from $69.95 to $99.95, and the company offers discounts on multiple licenses.

Spytech NetVizor is network monitoring software that invisibly monitors your entire network from one central location, making it an ideal solution for larger office environments. NetVizor starts at $295 for a five-system license. Both of these programs offer an online demo so you can evaluate their monitoring capabilities.

Another application to consider is Awosoft's Imonitor Employee Activity Monitor. Imonitor is a powerful monitoring solution with tons of features and configuration options. It even lets you enable/disable USB drives, card slots and CD/DVD-ROM drives, which further minimizes the chances of any unauthorized data removal.

The final utility Work Examiner, performs many of the features listed above, but it doesn't do screen captures, intercept keystrokes, collect the contents of instant messages or generally collect any personal information about the employee. Because of this, it doesn't behave like traditional spyware, and as such, it might work better with your anti-virus and anti-malware software. You can evaluate each of these software applications by trying the downloadable free trial versions.

Here's a caveat. Since these applications are essentially spyware, most antivirus or anti-malware applications might detect its presence on a computer. In order for the monitoring software to do its job, you'll have to create exclusions that will allow the monitoring software to run unimpeded. This could take a bit of work to resolve, so we strongly recommend that you thoroughly test the application on non-production PCs.

We urge you to consult with a lawyer before rolling out any type of employee-monitoring solution. Laws regarding computer monitoring vary and with any endeavor such as this, privacy issues will be a concern. So it's best not to make any assumptions about your rights or those of your employees.

Also, create an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and distribute it to all your employees. The document should outline precisely what your employees can and cannot do with company resources They should be made aware that their computers and Internet activity are being monitored, and that violation of these policies can carry serve consequences.

Ronald V. Pacchiano is a systems integrator and technology specialist with expertise in Windows server management, desktop support and network administration. He is also an accomplished technology journalist, writing product reviews and feature stories for both print and web-based publications.

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This article was originally published on July 12, 2010
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