Managing the threats against your office network is tricky enough without worrying about employees leaking vital business information or viewing inappropriate content in the workplace. A common approach to this is locking down the network or blocking particular sites. This often results in an environment of fear and distrust as employees continue accessing unsanctioned online content from their smartphones or through anonymous proxies on the very workstations where you thought such content was inaccessible.
Vulnerabilities do exist in your network, and they are a very real threat to your business. In response, many businesses create acceptable use policies (AUPs) to mitigate threats from employee internet access. While these policies vary by industry, they are frequently managed through enterprise web filtering software.
The best small business employee monitoring software helps you manage your AUP without investing too much time in it. You'll likely want a business internet filter that tracks user profiles with time limits and real-time threat detection to block sites whose content has not yet been classified. You may want to consider supporting employee devices as well to monitor their mobile activity.
Here are the main aspects to pay attention to in your search.
Monitoring and Blocking Features
Something to consider when you are searching for employee monitoring software is the different types of monitoring features it offers. For example, do you want to be able to control your employees' internet time? Do you allow them to surf the internet during breaks and lunches, or not at all? Some software applications allow you to select times when the internet or sites are blocked and times when not to block. For instance, are there some websites that your employees need to access in order to do their jobs and help your business grow? For these cases, most applications allow you to create user groups and select different websites to block at different times. Blocking disruptive sites and creating customized permissions is one way that using business internet software can help increase your productivity.
Also consider the specific areas of computer activity you want to track. The most comprehensive programs keep detailed logs of your employees' visited websites and applications, emails and online chats, keystrokes, created and downloaded files, print jobs, inserted devices, and even their physical locations when they have company devices. You may not want to keep such detailed tabs on your employees, but make sure that the software covers everything you need to monitor. For example, software that is strictly focused on filtering web content, such as ContentProtect, usually won't have all these features. If you do opt for a full suite of features, they are usually customizable, so you can still choose what to record and in how much detail, as well as when exceptions are in order.
Reports and Notifications
Another important feature is how the software informs you of different occurrences. It should provide regular reports (at the intervals you choose) with easy-to-read statistics and visual breakdowns of employee habits. For more detailed information, though, you'll need extensive notification options. The best software gives you great control over when and how you are notified. For instance, you may choose to be alerted if an employee downloads a document online or tries to access a forbidden website. Since notifications alert you to specific occurrences and reports give you a staff-wide overview, you'll get the most out of your software when you use them in tandem.
If you travel a lot and manage your network and employees remotely, then you want remote access to your internet filter data. Automatic archiving of data is an important feature to look for as well with office web monitoring software. You never know when you may need to review an employee's internet history. Consider choosing internet filter software that will record your employees' online searches and take screenshots of employees' monitors. These can come in handy if you ever find yourself in litigation with a disgruntled employee and need to back up your claims.
Ease of Use and Support
Good internet filter software should be intuitive to use and not leave you in the dark if you have questions. The best programs have visually appealing interfaces that clearly lay out all your options without feeling cluttered or overwhelming. You and other administrative users should feel confident using the software within a few minutes of clicking around, with a good grasp on all your monitoring options.
In case you do have issues, though, you'll want to go with a company that is easy to reach. It's ideal to have the option of receiving help through phone, email, live chat or online ticketing, though even some of the best companies only offer one or two of these support avenues. Live chat is typically the fastest way to connect with a representative.
Some companies charge you extra for ongoing upgrades and support after the first year. You can forgo this option, but you'll run the risk of operating outdated, possibly insecure software without help from the manufacturer. Fortunately, most companies have extensive self-help resources on their websites that you can always refer to, such as how-to guides, video tutorials and FAQs pages.