Methods Company Use to Monitor Employee Computers

Any job that requires the use of a company computer will likely have someone in charge of monitoring the computer’s use. Computer monitoring in the workplace provides accountability and makes sure that company assets are not used in inappropriate manners. There are several ways employers will monitor their company computers and larger companies tend to use as many methods as they can think of due to the large amount of computer usage their company is responsible for. Here is a quick list of some of the methods companies use to monitor employee computers.

Direct Monitoring

Company computers are obviously accessible to those in charge. Supervisors can walk around the office and look at what each employee is up to. It will become apparent when workers are using personal accounts or goofing off on off-topic websites or playing games. Browser history will show all unprotected browsing history where bosses can look up all the websites workers visited and when. Another direct and physical type of monitoring involves hardware that logs keystrokes. Companies will often keep logs of what is typed on their computers, especially with data entry jobs. Keeping logs of keystrokes gives employers average words per minute and provides a point of reference for what is typed on each of their computers.

Email Monitoring

If a company hosts a website, chances are that it hosts an email server as well. Any email address that ends in @mycompanyname.com is read and handled by mycompanyname.com administrators. Supervisors set up settings and procedures for employees to access the email, but the mail must pass through the company server. Company email addresses should only be used for official business purposes, and employers will find out if someone is leaking information, engaging business on false pretenses or using company email for personal accounts or chain letters. Email monitoring is an effective tool that employers use so that they can go back at any time to review what was being said by whom and why.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

A VPN allows computers to log in from anywhere and access employee-specific files and applications. Instead of each individual computer having its own files and settings, all of those are stored in one central location for employees to access from anywhere. Large companies use Networks with main servers so that they can run backups of every file that is generated on their computers. Companies don’t generally take kindly to wasteful files, so it is a good idea to refrain from storing personal photos, videos or music without permission. Backups also provide employers with accountability and they can go back at any time later and pinpoint who did what and when.

Firewalls and Network Analyzers

Companies which connect many computers to the Internet will analyze the traffic generated by their computers to ensure that the Internet is being used properly. If there is some sort of cyber attack or network virus, a network analyzer will be able to identify where information is being sent, where it is being sent from and ultimately what the root cause of the problem is. Workers might also try to get away with using the company’s Internet to download pirated files or access content not suitable for work. Many companies will monitor the main point of entry to the Internet to match computers with their online activity.

Software Monitoring

Employee monitoring software is used so that employers can remotely view logs of each computer’s use at any time of the day. Software is installed for each of the employees to take screenshots and capture logs of files, websites visited, chats and more. Logs are then inserted to the company’s online account where the supervisor can log in from anywhere to see what any worker is working on at any given time. A network administrator can look at any company computer in real-time and provide support by finding out which applications are installed, which ones are running and see exactly what the employee sees. Software accountability and remote monitoring work great by providing customized solutions without costly hardware or up-keep.

Depending on a company’s size, one, many or all of these methods may be in place for monitoring employee computer usage. Each company has its own set of policies and attitudes towards the use of company computers. A company handbook will outline what behaviors are acceptable and what the consequences will be for using company computers inappropriately. Any and all monitoring techniques should be properly outlined so that each worker is fully aware of the company’s stance on acceptable use of company property.

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