Software Can Help You Track Computer Usage

December 1, 1999
Who's got time to stand behind every employee and watch what they're up to?

Several companies are betting that you sure don't. They're selling products that help monitor computer usage by employees.

Of course, there are larger issues here ... like is playing around on the Internet for five minutes so much worse than talking about Monday Night Football or your best friend's wedding in the hallway? So much worse than calling your husband or wife? If you decide it is, here are some of the many companies that can help you out:

  • SurfWatch
    These folks offer a program called CheckNet, a "free and confidential" service. You give the surfwatchers your log files, and within two days they e-mail you an analysis of your company's Internet usage patterns. CheckNet breaks down the percentage of sites visited that are work-related vs. those that are recreational. SurfWatch's ultimate goal is to sell you a product that will enable you to block sites you don't want employees to visit. "It's easy to look busy when you're sitting at a computer. Employers are starting to question what employees are really doing," says Alexandra Salomon, director of content services.
  • WinVista
    Their WinVista Pro can keep track of everything employees do on their computer, from e-mailing their boyfriend to messing around on If an employee tries to launch a program you've decided is against the rules (e.g. Solitaire), it shuts down.
  • LittleBrother
    This software-with-a-scary-name can monitor the Internet activity of your employees. Kansmen Corporation says they used to sell their product mainly to education and government, but now get the majority of their dollars from corporations.
  • Invisible Key Logger
    A product aimed mainly for parents to control their kids' computer usage, Key Logger can keep track of virtually every keystroke that happens on a computer.