Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Can I Monitor My Employees’ Computers?

Friday, December 6th, 2013

You can download a free trial of Gecko Computer Monitoring Software here

You may wonder if you can legally monitor your employees’ computers, and the answer is yes. Employers are allowed to monitor their employees’ computers under certain restrictions. Any computers, PDAs or other computer devices that are given to employees can be monitored by employers legally. It is estimated that over 75% of U.S. companies monitor their employees’ activities on the computer, so it is certainly not uncommon.

What types of activities can I monitor? 

You can monitor your employees’ internet activities, instant messaging, typing speed, the length of time they’re on the computer, e-mails, downloads, documents stored on the computer, and other activities. You can screen your employees’ emails for specific keywords, and you can also monitor their keystrokes.

Why should I monitor my employee’s computers? 

You might consider monitoring your employees’ computers if you are worried about time wasting or productivity issues. Websites and social media sites like Facebook can seriously hamper your employees’ productivity and cost you money. Further you might be concerned about your employees viewing objectionable content on work computers which can subject you to legal risks. You may also be concerned about your employees revealing sensitive information about your company to other people and security threats to your company’s computer system. So, there are many reasons why you might monitor your employees’ computers, but you should do it the right way.

Employee monitoring software 

Employee monitoring software is the way to go if you are considering monitoring your employees’ computers, and there are a number of good solutions available. Employee monitoring software is just one part of a complete business IT system protection plan that should also include anti-virus software, malware protection, and company IT policies. Small businesses have a lot of different employee monitoring software options available each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

How you should go about using employee monitoring software 

Once you have decided on a software solution for employee tracking you shouldn’t use it secretly. Your employees should know that they are being monitored when they are using work computer devices, and you should let them know what you are monitoring and why you are doing it. If your employees know they are being monitored they are much more likely to be productive while at work. They will also appreciate you being upfront about your intentions to monitor them rather than surprising them.

Be fair with your employees and check the monitoring reports regularly 

You should check the monitoring reports on a regular basis and check for potential security issues or time wasting. Depending on the type of company culture you have, a bit of entertainment might be allowable during breaks, but it depends on how the company is run. Be fair with your employees and give them warnings for wasting time or other problems. If you catch your employees wasting too much time on games or social media sites you can have a simple sit down with them or send an email reminder which usually corrects the problem. You can also block certain websites like Facebook, YouTube and others using filtering software. Checking the monitoring reports regularly will allow you to follow up and see if your discussions with your employees have made any impact.

You can download a free trial of Gecko Computer Monitoring Software here

Is it legal for employers to track employees with GPS?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

GPS tracking at workplaces is a controversial topic among many, but in the United States courts have consistently ruled that workplace related GPS tracking is reasonable and is similar to surveillance video monitoring. GPS tracking can only be used to track employees who are at work, and for work related purposes. For instance, it is legal to ask why an employee’s cell phone showed that they were at a restaurant instead of on a delivery route at a time when they were on the clock. Using GPS tracking to monitoring employees should have a real business purpose, and the phone must be issued by the employer to the employee. Outside of business hours the tracking device should not be used.

GPS has evolved to be used in many ways in modern workplaces outside of just tracking and surveillance. GPS is often used in delivery and transportation workplaces because it can help management track where there employees are driving. It can also be used to guide and direct drivers to appropriate locations and adjust routes on the fly as needed. In other cases it can be used to find drivers or employees that are closest to a new job site and redirect them quickly. In law enforcement, the nearest police cars to the scene of a crime or emergency can be easily found. When it comes to legality of use, GPS must only be used for workplace related monitoring and business uses.

pocket pc gps

The courts usually favor employers in GPS tracking cases. In one case, an employee in New York was shown to be leaving work early on his employer issued cell phone. The cell phone had GPS tracking, and the employee was terminated. The case went to court and the judge upheld that the tracking was justifiable as well as the termination. The employee was also informed that the phone would have GPS tracking installed on it, and the judge ruled that the employee should not have expected privacy while working as a result of this. The judge ruled that the way the information about the employee’s whereabouts was collected (by the use of GPS) was justifiable and legal.

If there is a real question about the legality of using GPS, a business lawyer can always be consulted, but many work related tracking purposes are allowable, only if the phone is provided to the employee. GPS tracking cannot be installed on an employee owned phone for work related tracking purposes. Employers are also allowed to listen in to employee calls when they are at work and obtain record of calls made on the employer’s phone. In addition, it should be known that all phones can be tracked by law enforcement if they are on, even those without GPS, if law enforcement has a probable cause to pursue a suspect.

Computer monitoring by employers is also considered to be legal. Like cell phones, monitoring must only be installed on employer owned computers. Monitoring software can monitor any of an employee’s activities while they are on an employer owned computer including emails, web browser and software usage. Entertainment websites and other websites can legally be filtered from a web browser. Computer monitoring can be used by employers to improve productivity and keep compliant with regulations. It can also be used to collect evidence in the case that it is needed during a legal investigation or lawsuit. Employees may also legally be fired for computer misuse while at work, and this type of monitoring is so common that over two thirds of employers utilize it.

If you’re an employer looking to monitor employees, you may be interested in our computer monitoring software – Gecko Monitor. You can find out more about Gecko Monitor here.

Are Keyloggers Safe To Use?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

There’s a lot of negatively terminology associated with the term ‘keylogger’ and if you’re one of those people who actually needs to use one, it may be causing you concern. Are they or aren’t they safe to use? The short answer: yes, they are. But before I explain why, a short and very boring history lesson…

The term keylogger comes from the days of Microsoft DOS, when typing was the only thing you could do on a computer. Before you could use a mouse, DOS was the operating system of choice, and what you could do with it was limited. If you wanted to monitor a computer running DOS the only thing you’d need to watch is the keystrokes, to get a full picture of what was being done on that computer – hence ‘keylogger’.

Mircrosoft DOS

Now, at first these programs were used in a non-malicious way but hackers soon realised that they could use them to intercept and acquire sensitive information. Credit card numbers and passwords were the main catch, but they’d still need to be passed on and the keylogger would still need to be some how installed on the target system.

Fast forward a few years to the inception of Microsoft Windows and a few things happened that caused the situation to advance. First, the use of the mouse meant that now keystrokes didn’t reveal the entire picture, and second, the internet making an entry into the home meant hackers had a new way to access our lives and steal information.

At this point keyloggers went in two separate directions. In one direction, people who wanted to use them legitimately incorporated all the new features into them that would be necessary for monitoring a Windows computer (screenshots, websites, applications, etc). At this point the term keylogger became slightly outdated so they started being referred to as ‘Computer Monitoring Software’. These programs are very safe to use and are used in a whole range of situations; from monitoring the kids computer, to monitoring the office network.

The second direction was the one hackers went in. They’d incorporate keyloggers into viruses, that would infect your computer in a number of ways, hijack your passwords and/or card numbers then send this information back to the hacker via the internet. One example of how this would work would be hackers sending out millions of spam emails to random addresses with links in, when someone who isn’t particularly computer savvy clicks on a link the virus automatically downloads, infects the computer and starts running.

computer virus

But as internet security has improved, the above scenario has become harder and harder to implement. In today’s world, Windows internet security and anti-virus software combined makes it tough for hackers to work in this way, making keyloggers within viruses of this nature very rare.

To cut a long story short: Computer Monitoring Software is very safe to use, and there are plenty of large, popular companies out there that supply it. Keylogger Viruses, are not, but this isn’t something you’d search out and download yourself anyway, it would be a very unlucky chance encounter, just like with any other virus.

Of course, you may think we’re slightly biased! Considering we have our very own Computer Monitoring Software. To check out a free trial of Gecko Monitor click here

Are Keyloggers Legal? Or Illegal?

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

There is much heated debate about the utilization of keyloggers and with so many individuals using them to track cheating spouses as well as companies using them to monitor employees behaviors and production, those for an against them being legal all have seemingly valid arguments. However, the question that needs to be answered has nothing to do with morality; it has to do with defining what the law states in regards to their use, as this is the only evidence that will be deemed acceptable should one choose to take a stance with a partner or employer.

The biggest contention for those who oppose these software programs is that on a large scale they do invade one’s privacy. Unfortunately many of the laws surrounding electronic devices do not have specific limitations or restrictions for using them and therefore, keyloggers are still considered legal in many parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

legal or illegal

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

In 1986 Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as a way for the public at large to be able to keep their private information safe while at the same time allowing government agencies the license to monitor and record wiretaps, telephone calls and electronic data. The idea behind this act was to offer a balance between the privacy rights of citizens and to also allow the federal government to gain access to information relating to criminal and unlawful activity.

Since its initial passing, more acts have been passed in an effort to narrow the scope and better define what this act does and does not allow. Such amendments include the Federal Wiretap Act (FWA) and the Stored Communication Act (SCA). Neither of those acts includes making keyloggers illegal either.

Why it’s Still Legal to Use Keyloggers

Much of the confusion and discrepancies surrounding keyloggers comes down to how the acts are interpreted by the general public and the court systems. Even the federal government can’t agree on where the line should be drawn as far as what defines infringing upon one’s privacy rights. Most recently many court systems have attempted to interpret the protective acts in such a way that allowing the general public’s key strokes to be monitored should be seen as being unconstitutional and a definitive invasion of privacy.

The blatant conflict within defining these acts continues to cause a conundrum across the globe and in addition continues to cause conflict between employees and employers because the lines remain blurred, and the definitions and interpretations unclear. Many employees violently oppose employers spying on what they are doing even during work hours and feel that keyloggers are unlawful.

Because someone who installs keylogger software must have administrative rights on the system that it is being installed on, this gives them full access and license to do so as they see fit. Because employers can argue that there are legitimate reasons as to why activity on a computer needs to be monitored and surveyed, the practice of utilizing them is deemed as legal and in many cases, necessary. Companies have the right to protect their personal assets and information from being misused and shared and thus, using that argument alone will bypass any one employee from arguing that it is an invasion of privacy.

On an individual level, many parents utilize this software as a way to protect their children when they are online, which again is legal and recommended by people and professionals across the board. For the most part, those who use keylogger programs are doing so in a lawful and ethical way. The flipside is that with this software, there are many unethical and unlawful uses as well. Criminals are able to gain access to personal information, passwords and bank account information and therein lies the issues with those that are opposed to such software programs.

Canada Law and Keylogger Software

Much like the US Canada also have a Privacy Act that is in place and also like the US, their Privacy Act is written with many gray areas, making keylogger software definitely legal for private homes and employers. With the current acts and laws, as long as the person who installed the keylogger program is the owner of the computer or device that the software is being installed on, they have full and legal rights to utilize such software.

The laws and regulations become less arduous when individuals who are not owners of the computers or devices attempt to use them. If for example an ex-spouse or partner installs it on a computer or device without that person’s knowledge, a law suit can be filed and many have been brought up on criminal charges for doing so. In these instances it is because the installer is not the owner of the device and therefore infringes upon the computer owner’s privacy.

UK Laws and Keylogger Software

AS previously discussed, the laws and privacy acts also state that it is legal in the UK for individuals and companies to utilize keylogger software on any computer that they rightfully own. Many companies in the UK have a disclaimer in their employee manuals that specifically states that they have the right to monitor all employee activity in the case of suspicion and otherwise.

It is illegal only in instances where the information obtained is used in an unlawful way, for example as a way to collect passwords or using bank account information in an effort to steal personal funds.

If you’d like to download a free trial of Gecko Monitor, head to our homepage here.

Monitoring An Office Computer

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

We’re all well aware of the distractions office workers now face on a daily basis. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and an endless array of entertainment and games are available to us 24/7 at the click of a mouse. To many, this may be a sign of productivity levels dropping at work, and in a lot of cases this is certainly true. This is one reason you may want to start monitoring an office computer.

An other reason might be a bit more sinister. Stealing, pornography or a complete lack of regard for work might mean you need proof before action is taken on the out of line individual. Whatever the reason for wanting to monitor an office computer, these days it’s easily achievable, with some companies monitoring all their computers whatever the situation.

Office Computer Monitoring

Gecko Monitor, is an all in one monitoring solution for monitoring any computer. It’s main function is stealthy computer monitoring, meaning it’s perfect for monitoring one computer without it’s user knowing. If you’re wondering about whether this is legal or not, the general law is ‘you can monitor a computer that you own’. This varies from state to state and country to country so check your local laws. There’s an interesting thread that goes into more detail on the issue here:

http://askville.amazon.com/legal-computer-monitoring-software-state/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=11071111

Some people also have an ethical issue with this type of software. To those people I always say it’s not the software but what you do with it. When it comes to office productivity and suspicions of malpractice, it’s your company at risk and you have every right to protect it.

Gecko Monitor is a low cost application that provides all round monitoring. The software monitors keystrokes, applications, websites visited, documents opened and deleted, printed documents and takes screenshots at set intervals or when a new window becomes active. All of this is fully customizable and the software runs in complete stealth mode (or, if you choose, with an icon in the tray) meaning there’s no sign that the software is running.

Logs can be checked at the end of the day with a secret key combination and password, or can be emailed to you at set intervals. We think Gecko Monitor is perfect for monitoring an office computer but don’t take our word for it – download the free trial now by heading to our home page.

Monitoring Your Childs Computer – Ethical & Moral Implications

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

One of the questions I receive on a regular basis is to do with the ethical and moral issues of monitoring another persons internet activities. It’s definitely a hot issue and one that deserves consideration. For me, it depends on the person and the situation, and today we’re looking at monitoring your own childs computer.

Of course, there is no right or wrong answer in this – everyone’s moral compass points in a slightly different direction. The first thing to bare in mind though, is the law in your area. Nine times out of ten the law says you can monitor a computer IF you own it OR if you have the owners permission. You will almost always be able to monitor your own child’s computer, but it’s always a good idea to check up first.

Child at Computer

Another consideration is the reason you’d like to monitor your child’s computer. If the reason is resolvable without using monitoring software, then you might what to take that route rather than risk the fallout of using the software. An example of this may be playing too many games. If though, you think your child is getting into something more serious (pornography or dangerous chat rooms are a couple of examples) and they’re denying it or not talking to you about it, then monitoring software may be the way to go.

As mentioned before, you have to make your own mind up as to whether you are doing the right thing by your child. If you think the activity their doing behind your back could be worse for them in the end than the argument or loss of trust you may get from monitoring them, then use the software.

If you do decide to use monitoring software, you can install the software on the computer when they’re out quickly and simply. Once this is done you can either check the reports on they’re computer whenever they’re out, or get the reports emailed to you remotely. Gecko Monitor can monitor screenshots, keytrokes, websites visited, applications used, document activity, printer activity and more, so you can see exactly what’s been going on on the target computer.

What do you think of the moral and ethical implications of monitoring your child’s computer? Would you do it? And under what circumstances? Let us know in the comments. If you’d like to download a free trial of Gecko Monitor click here.