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Employee Monitoring - What Are Your Employees Doing Behind Your Back?

October 1, 2014

What are your employees doing behind your back?

You're running a business. Your employees fuel your business, but there are a seemingly infinite number of ways that they can harm it, too.

The obvious one that business owners think about is lawsuits. Let's say you own Poland Springs, and one of your drivers hits another truck. That's a pain for you, and money out of your pocket.

However, business owners - especially those who aren't in a tech field - usually don't consider the potential ramifications of letting employees browse the web unmonitored. There are a number of risks to this, and they're increased tenfold when you have a company server (with sensitive data) on the same internet connection.

Risk #1 - Hackers, Viruses, and Malware (the biggest)

Okay, listen up. Even if you are tech-savvy, that doesn't mean that every single one of your employees will be. And even if they are, malicious hackers are getting pretty good these days.

What's the risk?

Even one slipup from an employee can mean a large-scale security leak. It makes sense when you think about it. Are hackers going after Grandma's computer, where the only information on it is her favorite apple pie recipe and 50 photos of her grandchildren?

Not at all. They're going after you - the business with the valuable customer information and other data.

It's not like an employee will accidentally download a virus and then the antivirus will immediately begin to flash. Most viruses work in the background, meaning that the employee installs a malicious program and nothing appears to happen. Viruses coded by experienced programmers won't be detected by a standard antivirus program - they'll run the .exe, and the virus will be on there for life.

And it's just that simple. A little scary, no?

Pfft, that would never happen...

Think again - even the most intelligent people can be fooled by some of these viruses. They commonly take the form of popular program "updates". An incredibly popular one is a popup saying that the user needs to update Adobe Flash - it seems harmless, but your flash player is actually up to date and it's a virus.

It can happen on trustworthy sites.

The way that hackers get their viruses out is pretty ingenious, actually.

Instead of buying ad space on shady websites (like porn websites), they look for vulnerabilities in legitimate websites. Once they find a vulnerability, they insert some code so that a pop-up will appear with the virus for 5% or so of the visitors to the website.

This means that it stays there, undetected, for a prolonged period of time. So, you don't necessarily need to be visiting insecure websites to get a virus. Even basic websites needed for work can have viruses on them if the website owner isn't up to date on his security.

Let's talk about insecure websites, though:
Risk #2 - Distraction and Unprofessionalism
By monitoring your employee's web usage, you are also able to block certain websites. This means that you can block entire categories... like porn, games, and social media.

Why do this? Well, while all employees might appear to be working hard when you come around, there's no way of telling what they're doing behind your back without monitoring their web usage.

They're probably not sending each other emails about how much they hate you, but, at the same time, you definitely don't want to be paying them a salary to sit around and play games.
Monitoring usage takes away the guesswork.
"Oh, John is behind on a project again?"

John's just a made up name, but this is a common occurrence in a workplace. Let's say John is a relatively good employee, but, for the past few months, he's been behind on all of his projects. He says he's working hard, but you think he should be completing projects faster.

Firing someone with this behavior is risky for you - you might have just fired someone illegitimately.

With monitoring, you can see if John is wasting time doing other, non-work things, or if he is actually doing the project as he's supposed to and it's just taking longer than you anticipated it would.
Monitoring forms connections.
If an employee is free to mess around on the web whenever he wants to, then it's likely he'll be doing that instead of interacting with coworkers.

Monitoring makes it so that employees can't do this. They can't talk to each other, but they still take breaks - this can lead to an increase in compatibility between different departments and people in general.
Okay, how do I monitor?
Lots of business owners make the mistake of going with the first monitoring program that they come across. Unfortunately, programmers take advantage of this, and often sell over-priced, under-effective software to unsuspecting business owners.

Here's a list of things to look for:

  • Undetectable: your employees shouldn't be able to turn the program off without your consent
  • Reasonably priced: paying $1,000 for a single computer? That's far too much.
  • Detect keystrokes: you should be able to see what your employees are doing down to the letter
  • Access passwords: if an employee decides to spectacularly quit one day, you want to make sure that you have his passwords so you can move forward with the projects he was working on without missing a beat
  • Ease of access: get a program that has multiple delivery options - you don't want to waste time sorting through complicated log files or anything of that nature
We recommend Spytector. It's one of the cheapest on the market, but, at the same time, it's one of the best. In fact, it has won a slew of different awards from different companies - you can check them out here.

There's a free version so you don't have to jump right into purchasing a license before testing out how it works. One of the great things about Spytector is that it's actually undetectable - lots of companies will claim to be, but Spytector is the only one that can back that claim up consistently.

Overall? Don't run the risk of leaving your employees unmonitored. Chances are, nothing will happen today, tomorrow, or next week... but when something does happen - as it inevitably will - it can cost you time and money beyond your wildest imagination.