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What makes internet monitoring a necessity? Unless you’re your only employee, you should be monitoring what your employees are doing with your internet.  Let’s face it, there are a ton of time-waster websites out there, everything from YouTube to Facebook, and even the best of us have at one time or another taken a little bit too long of a break.  That’s not all you should worry about, though.  Some employees may be using company computers for more questionable means like illegally streaming music or movies or even harassing other employees. Without proper checking, your employees could even be opening up your network to attacks from malware or other threats.  Putting in strict guidelines and blocking time-wasting sites can help with this, but there should always be a system in place to check that people aren’t getting around your measures.

How should we be monitoring the internet then?

Well, for starters, if you’re a client of Baltic Broadband, you can log into your account and check just how much bandwidth has been used.  If you notice unexpectedly high numbers, then chances are that someone is streaming, downloading, or uploading something that they shouldn’t be.  You can do the same with most other internet companies as well. For most small businesses, your next step should be finding a monitoring system that works for you.  Interguard Software is a solid candidate for an inexpensive but comprehensive monitoring program.  It can monitor email, IM, web, and program usage, among other things.  There are also free programs out there that can do the same things, but will be much more simple with reporting and might be easier to work around for savvy employees. For those looking for the best of the best, your best bet is talking to an IT specialist yourself, discussing your company policies, and putting in place your own web-hosted system with a few different programs and remote-monitoring services.

What sort of things should we monitor?

Practises vary greatly from business to business.  An important thing to keep in mind is what kind of business you’re running.  If you’re a local shoe company then blocking your competition’s sites would be shortsighted.  Similarly, if one of your employees is supposed to be managing your Facebook account, you can’t very well block them from that. Your best bet for figuring out what to filter is to watch your employees’ usage.  If you’re seeing frequent YouTube visits during working hours then that’s what you want to block.  The same is true of any sites that employees visit a little too frequently that are wasting time.  You’ll also want to block any inappropriate sites or potentially dangerous ones. It’s important to note that you should not only make these changes to policy known but discuss it with your employees as well and never hide that you’re monitoring their usage either unless you believe someone on your team poses a serious threat. Lastly, make sure you check internet activity regularly.  A friendly reminder that playing minesweeper for 4 hours each day is not an appropriate use of the computer might be all your employees need.]]>

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