When it comes to monitoring employee internet usage, employees are usually quite hostile to the idea even though it is in their best interest as much as it is for the business. Employee internet monitoring is generally seen as a breach of privacy and as oppressive, in reality however, when properly implemented it is none of these.

The first aspect we need to consider is that the monitoring is done by an application. Most employee internet monitoring solutions allow the administrator to set policies which regulate and control how employees are using the internet. This is a powerful tool that balances the need of the business to monitor its internet usage for productivity and security reasons, while respecting employee privacy.

Employee internet monitoring serves to help the organization ensure employees don’t spend an excessive amount of time browsing non-work related sites during work hours, that no malware is downloaded and/or installed on the machine, that no confidential data leaks out, and that no illegal activity of any kind occurs using the business’s internet connection.

These points should be explained to employees before implementing the internet monitoring solution within the workplace. Ideally, the organization would create an internet usage policy – outlining what type of web browsing is allowed and what isn’t in the workplace, and during which hours it is allowed – and a copy should be given to each employee. Furthermore, organizations should educate employees on web threats, how these can affect them and the business, and how malware infections can be prevented and avoided.  

In most cases, an employee internet monitoring solution can work autonomously without having to report specific employees unless an investigation is in progress. It is no problem for the organization if, for example, Employee A used up his 45 minutes of personal internet use when the business knows any subsequent requests were blocked by the system. It wouldn’t make any difference to the business whether Employee B tried to access a sports site or not when such website category is blocked. The business only cares that the policies are being respected. The need to monitor the actual traffic manually to check if any employee is disregarding the company internet usage policies is eliminated as the internet monitoring solution would do this automatically.

Let’s take, for example, an employee who accidentally downloads a program infected with malware. The business isn’t really concerned about which employee initiated the download. What is important for the business is that the site that hosts the malware is blocked, thus preventing further malware infections in future. Had there been no internet monitoring solution in place, the employees would be able to accidentally/intentionally download malware from infected sites and possibly infect the corporate network. The administrator would have to spend considerable time restoring the network resulting in substantial downtime – meaning loss of productivity, money and, possibly, reputation.

Although the use of an employee internet monitoring solution could sound like a ‘Big Brother’ approach, if implemented properly, such software protects workers.  Besides boosting security and maintaining acceptable productivity levels, having a robust employee internet monitoring solution means that work ethics are respected, policies are not violated, and offensive material is blocked – moreover administrators are alerted if any problems arise. An employee internet monitoring solution is a win-win for both the business and the employee so long as it is implemented in the correct manner and everyone in the organization is briefed and understands why this is being done.