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What is Internet Monitoring Software?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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Internet monitoring software consists of computer programs that are used to detect the internet activity of a particular computer. While the internet has increased efficiency of the professional office exponentially, it can also be one of the biggest distractions and reasons why productivity suffers. This is why business internet monitoring software is so popular with some employers who rely heavily on many employees using computers. In addition, this software can also be an aid to parents.

There could be many reasons that an employer would want to have some sort of internet monitoring software in place for a business. The most obvious reason is to determine whether any illegal or unethical business is being conducted online. Other reasons include determining whether the employee is spending work time to socialize, visit sites unrelated to his or her work duties and chatting. Most internet monitoring software programs look after all these things.

In a family, the same also holds true. Though most of the family protection can be handled with good internet filtering software, there some aspects of the internet that cannot be handled in such a way. Filtering software, for example may do well at blocking pornographic or violent images, but it may not do as well in restricting the types of chat rooms a youngster wanders into. These can often be just as dangerous for youth.

The best internet monitoring software, no matter what the brand, does many of the same things. It will keep a log of all the sites visited. It may also capture screen shots from some of those sites. It will keep a record of all instant messaging conversations, logging the times as well. E-mail activity is also monitored, with messages, both received and sent copied and stored for later review. In addition, some programs will even send e-mails to the software installer or owner if there are certain keywords used in internet searches. This gives the person monitoring the usage nearly instant feedback if something is not right.

In addition to internet monitoring software for content, there are other types of software available as well. For example, there are programs capable of reporting the speed of an internet connection, just in case you have concerns about how fast your connection truly is. Another form of software, known as internet traffic monitoring software, can also help by showing how many network computers are accessing the internet, and overall total network usage.

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Discussion Comments
By anon345853 — On Aug 23, 2013

I think every one who uses the Internet all the time is aware of the necessity of installing such software to see the potential threats to their systems and infrastructure. There are various tools for these reasons both free and payable. The client chooses what is better for every person in particular. I have chosen the tool Anturis for my firm and I feel safer with it.

By miriam98 — On May 24, 2011

@Charred - Some time ago I believe Google or some other company was exploring the possibility of building filtering software that could “see” photos, as you explained. However, I think they determined that the amount of bandwidth required would be astronomical and abandoned the effort.

It will take some time before we have an Internet monitoring tool that can satisfy everyone. For the time being, the best policy is to use the best software you can find and combine it will a little common sense and oversight.

By Charred — On May 23, 2011

@MrMoody - The problem is the visual nature of the Internet. The network Internet monitoring software that you refer to relies heavily on tracking keywords in a website, whether the words are in the website itself or even in its domain name. However, what happens if you don’t have the required keywords but still have questionable content on the website?

Imagine, for example, that a website pretends to be about making homemade cookies, and there are pornographic images on every page. The software doesn’t “see” the pictures, and if there are no tell-tale tags in the captions, the entire website will be let through.

By MrMoody — On May 22, 2011

I’ve used parental Internet monitoring software, and I can tell you that it does work—but a little too well. It blocks so many sites that are just plain innocuous; however because it sees some words that it thinks are “keywords” for illicit material, it nixes the site.

My kids find this feature pretty frustrating. You can dial back the filtering settings on this kind of software so it’s not that restrictive but it’s a delicate balancing act. If it’s too lax, then it will allow sites that should be blocked. The fact is, humans are still better adept at filtering what is family friendly Internet material than software is, although I do admit the software is catching up.

By nony — On May 20, 2011

Computer Internet monitoring software has become a necessity in so many businesses not only because of the possibility of illegal activities taking place, but because of the possibility that viruses could be downloaded. Network administrators in particular are very alert to this, as it doesn’t take much for a virus to enter a business network and then start spreading.

Sometimes certain sites have to be blocked because they present known security threats. That’s why our employer continually reminds us never to download anything without the approval of a network administrator.

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