Look Who's Watching: Employee Monitoring Becoming Standard Practice

Not only was the city losing valuable time to employees browsing the Web during work hours, but the task of repairing computers due to spyware and malware attacks was overtaking the IT department.

"We really don't want to monitor our users. It makes interesting copy, but it's not the problem," he says. "It's about stopping crap from coming into your system. These people [who write malware] are getting smarter. They can take down the organization. That's the new frontier."

Tony Bisulca agrees. "We've actually seen a reduction in viruses and worms" since deploying filtering tools. In October 2005, Bisulca's company began using a filtering product from 8e6 Technologies and a content monitoring product from Mountain View, Calif.-based Reconnex Inc. "We've also seen a reduction in the number of hits to Web sites that are offensive," Bisulca says.

"Generally speaking, my goal is not to monitor but to be able to provide the bandwidth to do our jobs. Everything else is incidental," says Davis of Potomac Hospital. He uses eTelemetry's monitoring tool, which he refers to as a bandwidth detector tool. "We block anything that's offensive. I like that better than reporting. This is a small hospital, and we know everyone, and you don't want to run down and report people. It's best to prevent it in the first place."

Like Bisulca, Davis receives daily reports that tell him what happened on the network the previous night. And every morning, he scans the reports, hoping he doesn't see any abnormal traffic or bandwidth behavior. But if he does see a problem, he can track down the user in a minute; with the manual method he used previously, it took him 45 minutes to identify the user.

"In one case, someone was trying to download movies, and I could see, in real time, that it was causing real bandwidth issues," says Davis. "By the time I would have traced it [with the old product], they may have been off of the line."

In the case of the movie-downloading user, Davis called the guy and told him to knock it off.

Yet most of the time, when it comes to confronting people who are misusing the Internet, CIOs leave that job to the hiring manager, human resources or the legal department -- or even the police.

While in the middle of testing his new blocking and monitoring system, Glenwood Springs' Munroe helped nab a suspected pedophile who was using the public Internet lab. An off-duty police officer who was at the community center using the gym equipment happened to glance over toward the computers and saw that a man was looking at adult porn. Through a remote-view feature, Munroe was able to capture the image that was being viewed. The police officer confronted the perpetrator.

While Munroe is glad the guy is off the street and out of his community center, catching pedophiles wasn't -- and still isn't -- his objective. CIOs don't want to be the Internet traffic cop.

"It's not IT's responsibility," says Deseret's Lewis. "Nor does anyone want it to be IT's responsibility. I'm comfortable that we block the material."

Kate Evans-Correia was executive editor of SearchCIO.com and SearchCIO-Midmarket.com. To comment on this story, email searchcio-midmarket.com.

This was first published in January 2007

There are Comments. Add yours.

TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: