Best Practices for Monitoring Employee Computer Use

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

We recently came across “Best Practices Regarding Employee Computer Use,” written by Dandford Grant, a partner at Stafford Frey Cooper law firm, and thought it could be a great resource for Wavecrest customers and others thinking about implementing a filtering or monitoring solution. The paper discusses employee privacy rights, monitoring and surveillance of employees, and recommended policies & practices. It also gives examples of past legal cases and their rulings.  Below are a few highlights and good points to take away from the paper.

  • “In most situations, a certain amount of monitoring is good business and may be required.”
  • An employer should inform employees that Internet and email use will be monitored.
  • “Monitoring should be fair and consistent,” i.e., run and review the same reports regularly and dig deeper when the data warrants it.
  • Most importantly, communicate with employees frequently about your organization’s acceptable use policy and best practices when using email and Internet sites, such as social networks, blogging, etc.

Control Excessive Bandwidth Consumption with Wavecrest Filtering and Reporting

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Bandwidth consumption is an increasing concern for all organizations as bandwidth-intensive sites and video streaming become more popular.  The table below offers several examples of the amount of bandwidth that different online activities consume.

Activity or File Size (in kb)
One hour of IM chatting with AOL 10
Send a one-page text email with Gmail 150
View five different articles in Wikipedia 1,200
Upload a 10MP JPEG photo in Flickr 2,400
Downloading a 3 minute song from iTunes 5,600
Watch a 5 minute YouTube video 12,500
Watch episode of “The Simpsons” 25,000
Listen to one hour of music on Pandora 56,300
Compressed version of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” 800,000

As the table shows, many online activities that are probably not work related utilize a lot of bandwidth.  The last thing any organization needs is network latency or slowdowns due to non-work related online activity.

To mitigate this problem, CyBlock and Cyfin provide IT with the information needed to determine 1) if the bandwidth consumption is work related and 2) if any measures need to be taken to reduce the amount of consumption.  Both products provide quantified data (via Web-use reports) that can help IT personnel keep track of network (bandwidth) utilization by users as well as by type of usage (appropriate or not so appropriate).

The Dashboard is the easiest way to get a quick view of bandwidth usage.  You can quickly find the top bandwidth consumers by users, groups, categories or sites.  You can also check when spikes in bandwidth activity occur.

The reports below can also be used to monitor bandwidth usage by users and identify potentially troublesome sites.

  • Site Analysis Bandwidth Report – Focusing on kilobytes by classification, category, and users, this report gives a good overview of whether the majority of bandwidth consumption was acceptable and which categories and users used the most bandwidth.
  • Top Bandwidth Sites Report – This report shows the top bandwidth consuming sites and their categories for the specified time period.
  • Network Information Report – Find out your busiest time of day for Internet use with this report.  It shows visits and kilobytes read by hour.
  • Top Users Report – This report displays the top hits, visits, and kilobytes by user.

These reports can help you anticipate overload possibilities and the need (or lack of need) to purchase additional capacity.  If abuse can be detected and brought under control, the cost of additional capacity may be avoided.

By monitoring and using the reports listed above, you can:

  1. Obtain an accurate, content-categorized picture of network usage patterns
  2. Identify bandwidth abusers for management attention
  3. Prevent bandwidth wastage through intelligent filtering
  4. Improve IT system performance and reduce bandwidth costs.