Cybersecurity has gone mainstream, but businesses typically focus on external threats. Managing those threats is important, but what about your internal security? Could employees be leaking vital business information, accessing inappropriate content, or simply wasting time goofing off on the clock? Internal vulnerabilities exist to your network as well, and that's where employee monitoring software comes in.
To ensure employees are informed of what is acceptable and what is not, devise an acceptable use policy. These policies mitigate threats from misuse of devices or malicious activity, and they're enforced through the use of content filtering and internet management software – tools which are baked into the most comprehensive employee monitoring software on the market. To give your acceptable use policy teeth, you need an effective employee monitoring solution.
The best small business employee monitoring software helps you manage and enforce your acceptable use policy without investing too much time in it. You'll likely want a business internet filter that tracks user profiles with time limits, as well as 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
Always consider the different types of monitoring features an employee monitoring application offers. For example, how much do you want to control your employees' internet time? Will you allow them to surf the internet during breaks and lunches, or not at all? Are there some websites that your employees need to access in order to do their jobs and help your business grow?
Some software applications allow you to select times when the internet or sites are blocked and times they're not blocked. Most applications also allow you to create user groups, each with their own rules and permissions. Blocking disruptive sites and creating customized permissions for specific groups is one way that 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 the websites your employees' visit and the applications they use, along with emails, online chats, keystrokes, created and downloaded files, print jobs, inserted devices, and even their physical locations when they're on 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 choose what to record and in how much detail, as well as when exceptions are in order.
Reports and Notifications
Pay attention to how software's reports and notifications work. 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, and the best software gives you 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 both options together.
If you travel a lot and manage your network and employees remotely, then you want remote access to your internet filter data. In addition, make sure your office web monitoring software includes automatic archiving. 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 their 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. Administrative users should feel confident using the software, with a good grasp on all your monitoring options, after just a few minutes of clicking around.
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 help options via 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 and 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.