Software to Control and Monitor Computer Use

Control Computer Use

     For computer security purposes, many businesses need to restrict or control access to computer. This may be to prevent theft of company secrets from the computer, to protect files from being damaged deliberately by disgruntled employees, or to prevent careless use of the computer that could leave it susceptible to a computer virus, Trojan, or other forms of spyware. There are various types of access control:

1) Time control - You can control the times people can access the computer. This would prevent access to the computer when the office is closed, for example. One program that does this is Software Time Lock. This program allows you to set hours for each day of the week during which you cannot use the computer. If you prefer, it also allows you to set hours during which you cannot access the Internet or specific software programs. You can also set it to restrict the amount of time that people can use the computer, the Internet, or specific programs. (This later function is more useful for parental control of computer use.) For more information on Software Time Lock, click here.

2) Program control - You can control what programs can be run on the computer. You can either block programs entirely from running on a computer, or password protect them so that only authorized persons can access them. You might also want to control changes in the computer configuration. One very powerful program for this type of access control is Program Selector Pro. Once installed, this program replaces the normal Windows interface (icons, start button, task bar) with its own interface. This interface consists of a list box of programs. You can control which programs are on this list box, thus preventing other programs from being run at all. You can also password protect the programs on this list, to restrict access to authorized persons. For more information on Program Selector Pro, click here. A milder form of protect is Program Sentry. This program allows you to create lists of blocked or allowed programs that can be run on the computer. The protection is less powerful, but it does not change the look and feel of Windows. For more information on Program Sentry, click here.

3) Internet control - You can control what Web sites people can access on the Internet. That is, you can block Web sites you consider inappropriate for your employees. A good program for this is Web Site Zapper. This program allows you to create a list of either blocked or allowed Web sites. These lists can be quite general, such as blocking any sites containing "sex" or "gambling" or "casino" or "XXX" in the title or URL. Likewise, you can set Web Site Zapper to only allow people to view pages that are hosted on specific sites, such as Your, or that contain certain phrases in the title, like "office supplies." For more information on Web Site Zapper, click here. An even more restrictive program is Internet Password Lock. This program blocks any access to the Internet unless you enter a password selected by you. For more information on this program, click here.

4) Clock control - One some computers, you might want to prevent tampering with or changing the computer system clock. This is most important if you use the computer as any type of time clock where employees punch in when they report for work. It can also be important if your computer monitors or controls use of the computer based on time. One program that solves this problem is Clock Guard. This program will not allow you to change the computer clock without the password. For more information of Clock Guard, click here.

Monitor Computer Use

     Instead of controlling access to the computer, you might want to simply monitor what people are doing on the computer. For example, you might want to monitor what Web sites people go to, or what programs people use.

1) Web Surfer Watcher is a software program for Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP (does not work on NT computers) that records what Web sites have been viewed on your computer. Web Surfer Watcher operates hidden in the background, recording Web site titles and URLs (addresses) of Web sites viewed using Internet Explorer or America Online. For more information of Web Surfer Watcher, click here.

2) Computer Use Reporter covertly monitors what programs are used on the computer, what files or Web sites these programs access, when they are accessed, and which user is on the computer at the time. It records the time people start using the programs, and the time they start using the next program, thus giving you a time log for computer use. Since it reports all programs used, it can even check on whether employees are playing games or other non-business activities during business hours. It is therefore more comprehensive than Web Surfer Watcher. However, it does not record the actual Web site URL people are viewing, only the title of the page they are viewing. For more information on Computer Use Reporter, click here.



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