Feel like you're being watched at work? You may be right

Substance-abuse recovery Hanley Center in Florida has patients, some of them celebrities, undergoing treatment to get off alcohol or drugs. With that kind of sensitive data in its computers, Hanley decided the way to keep a lid on it was to monitor every single keystroke an employee on a computer makes every day, all day.

"You can record every snapshot of a screen and keystroke they've done," says Michael Counes, director of IT, who uses SpectorSoft's Spector 360 surveillance and monitoring software. "It's like a video camera."

Every file transfer, e-mail or use of a portable storage device would be noticed by the SpectorSoft surveillance software, which can notify a manager about inappropriate use based on keywords and other factors.

Employees at Hanley Center receive training to be informed of appropriate use of a computer, including keeping patient files confidential. They're also told about the monitoring, says Counes, "and once every six months I show them what we're capable of receiving. They know this technology is there and that they should respect that."

Over the years, a very small number of employees have made mistakes in judgment about what constitutes sensitive information, and were immediately dismissed. The use of the monitoring software over time has shown the pitfalls often extend into social networking, where employee fail to maintain the proper discretion.

"They just don't understand the dynamics of their choices," says Counes, noting that violations of acceptable-use policy are passed along to the human resources department for review.

Also view: 10 of the world's strangest social networks

Even churches have to deal with problems in which surveillance helps, such as when someone violates the Eighth Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal."

That's what happened at James River Assembly Church in Missouri recently, when in the kids' classroom area, "we had some game consoles come up missing," says Todd Nicholson, IT director.

The Ozark, Mo., church, which has a 15,000-member congregation, has situated about 350 Axis IP-based surveillance cameras around its grounds and in public areas of the church offices for safety purposes. The IP-based cameras are simply another device on the church's Cisco-based Ethernet LAN, and surveillance data is generally stored for up to six months.When the game consoles went missing, the church's managers immediately went to the stored surveillance footage, which revealed a visitor with a duffle bag who had been alone in the kids' classroom area, apparently taking the game consoles. The surveillance footage later showed the individual using a laptop in the free Wi-Fi area at the church to go online.

Since James River Assembly Church also uses Websense filtering software for Internet security, the IT department looked at the wireless logs to see what this individual was doing online at that time, and saw a photo and name of the individual on the MySpace page he had visited. That pretty much nailed down the suspect. "The man had a name," said Nicholson, saying linking what the IP video camera saw with the thief's social-networking activity at that time helped solve the mystery.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

This story, "Feel like you're being watched at work? You may be right" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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