SMEs step up Web spying

The word is that small to medium enterprises are becoming more savvy about inappropriate Net surfing habits - and are stepping up efforts to stamp it out.

The word is that small to medium enterprises are becoming more savvy about inappropriate Net surfing habits - and are stepping up efforts to stamp it out.

AUSTRALIA (ZDNet Australia)- SMEs are going one step further than just filtering out unfitting content and are now more likely to deploy software that produces informative reports on employees' Net usage patterns - right down to specifics including how long people are surfing on sites.

"HR teams in large corporations [have historically been] more proactive about his type of thing," Chris Johnston, operations manager at Internet monitoring tool developer WebSpy, told ZDNet.

"However, we're dealing in an environment where more employees want to find out information about what their employees are doing on the Net," Johnston added.

Johnston believes that this drive by SMEs to know more specifics about employee Net surfing trends is a sign that more of them have Internet usage policies in place now.

Without an Internet usage policy, companies can only really reprimand employees for inappropriate Web activity.

Johnston cited a UK bank manager who was surfing porn sites "50 percent of his time" but couldn't be fired because the financial institution in question didn't have an adequate Internet usage policy in place at that time.

Electronic Frontiers Australia claims that although it doesn't approve of employers' close monitoring of staff, they have every right to supervise their systems in this manner.

"More [SMEs] are starting to think about it because the issues are becoming more apparent," EFA executive director Irene Graham said.

However, Graham believes that only about 20 percent of SMEs currently have policies in place.

Employers must "make it clear [to employees] that they have an Internet use policy," Graham said. "They can't secretly monitor then sack someone," she added.

WebSpy claims the drive by SMEs for more informative data analysis prompted its soon-to-be released WebSpy Analyzer, which logs individual Net usage trends on-the-fly.

WebSpy Analyzer, which will be delivered to the SME market on November 1, has been available as a beta download version and 20 SMEs have taken it aboard in the last week, according to Johnston.

Priced are under the AU$900 mark, Johnston claims SME interest in the product has racked up 12 advance orders to date.

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