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Product updates, press releases and the latest developments in Web-use management & employee Internet monitoring from Wavecrest Computing.

Reliable Web-use metrics help get accurate, actionable information to company stakeholders

Reliable Web-use metrics

Proper management of employee Web use requires that all company stakeholders be provided with the best possible information on the Web activity of their Internet users. Specifically, the right information needs to get to the right people in the right format. This might be a challenge for companies for various reasons. One reason is that managers who may want to address productivity issues with employees, based on their Internet use or abuse, do not have the information in an easy-to-read and actionable format. They may not even have reporting access to their department’s Web activity whether through data visualizations such as charts, e-mailed reports, or a manager portal.

Another reason is that if there is reporting on Web traffic in the organization, it may be inadequate in showing relevant human behavior in the workplace. That is to say, almost all Web-use reporting tools provide information at the computer transaction level, not the user activity level. Hits and requests are computer-to-computer connections, i.e., all the hits/requests made when a user clicks a link. Your IT or network person is interested in computer-to-computer or computer-to-server communication, i.e., hits, requests, bytes, etc. Managers are interested in visits, time online, categories, and classifications and cannot read computer-level communication reports that don’t mean anything in terms of human action.

Without knowing the human behavior in the organization, management is unable to define what is normal and flag anomalies that may indicate insider threats, i.e., human actions that threaten data security. They are also unable to detect trends in workforce productivity or determine whether an employee is in compliance with corporate policy. In this article, I will cover what you should expect from your Web monitoring and filtering solution to get the most accurate, actionable Web-use information to all company stakeholders, i.e., senior managers, IT, HR, and department managers.

Company stakeholders or collaborators require specific Web-use data and need the right information to make decisions and take action. Reliable Web-use metrics are pertinent to the output of accurate Web-use information. Metrics allow you to analyze patterns of human behavior to detect inappropriate or excessive Internet use, address employee behavioral issues, and discover events that could lead to a data breach. In your Web monitoring and filtering tool, you should be able to get this data presented in easy-to-read visualizations such as reporting dashboards, charts, and detailed audit reports. The tool should also be able to serve dashboards, reports, and metrics from an easy-to-use portal.

All of these reporting visualizations provide several benefits for IT staff, administrators, managers, HR personnel, and other users. They can supply specific information to a specific audience in the company, increasing efficiency and productivity. They can be used for analysis of human behavior which allows companies to manage and control employee Internet use. They can be customized to offer different types of analyses for different users and therefore serve different purposes. And they comprise different reporting types such as Operational, Strategic, and Analytical reporting, allowing customized reporting of the data.

Operational reporting shows activity that is happening now and is based on real-time data. With real-time employee Web-use metrics, IT can monitor Web activity in real time as well as employee bandwidth consumption. The data is updated frequently. Operational reporting components are designed to be viewed multiple times during the day. Real-time employee Web-use metrics give a real-time running display of the browsing behavior of employees, i.e., current user activity, and identifies bandwidth hogs in real time.

Strategic reporting summarizes performance over set time frames, for example, last week or last month, and its individual visualizations, such as dashboard charts, are updated on a recurring basis at less frequent intervals. In relation to key performance indicators or metrics, Strategic reporting can show a snapshot of top consumer Web activity with interactive visualizations providing the details. This data may be of interest to IT staff, managers, and HR personnel. With these interactive visualizations, collaborators can quickly discover and track which users, categories, or sites had the most activity, how much time users are spending online, and so on. With drill-down capability, these charts can provide the details of user Web activity for audits and investigations.

Analytical reporting shows trends in data over time as well as comparisons of Web activity. This data may be of interest to managers and HR personnel. Its data visualizations may consist of trend and comparison charts as well as detailed audit reports, allowing collaborators to analyze large volumes of Web activity data for long-term audits and forensic investigations. Comparison charts allow collaborators to compare the Web traffic for a set date range with that of a previous period to detect any anomalies in Web activity. Analytical reporting also includes categorized, detailed audit reports that can deliver a comprehensive analysis of user activity including their visits, search terms, and inappropriate sites. They can be quickly run as ad hoc reports saving time in audits or investigations.

As mentioned earlier, your Web monitoring and filtering tool should be able to serve these data visualizations from a portal that is accessible to managers as well as an IT administrator. IT should be able to easily distribute reports manually or schedule reports for automatic distribution to managers as necessary. In the self-service portal, managers would be able to create reports on their authorized groups without assistance from IT and drill down to detailed user Web activity.

While reliable metrics are a critical part of Web-use data, your tool should also include a Smart Engine that feeds that data to the reporting components and provides analytics for determining human behavior because the raw data itself is only information about machine/network requests. It is not about human activity, but about the machine’s response to a human request to get or push information. In the next article, we will discuss Smart Engine analytics and its importance in deriving human behavior from Web-use data.

Read more of my articles on Web-use management on LinkedIn.

 

Requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program

Because managing employee Web use deals with humans and their actions, it is a continuous process for all sizes and types of businesses, where the goal is to ensure employees use Web access safely for productive, work-related purposes. To attain a high level of success, I believe that this process requires a Web-use management program be put in place that involves many key players in the organization, communication of the company’s Web-use policy, implementation of a reliable tool to monitor and control Web use, and other important activities. In this article, I will discuss the requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program and the activities involved that will bring about safe and productive Internet use by the workforce.

The key ingredient in an effective program is collaboration and communication among the various groups in the company, i.e., senior management, Legal department, IT personnel, HR personnel, department managers and supervisors, and employees. Communication would include IT keeping company stakeholders informed about current hacker threats, as well as HR apprising senior management of pertinent employee Web-use behavior. Collaboration would occur among HR, IT, and department managers in training the workforce. Collaboration would also take place between IT and department heads to select the appropriate Web monitoring and filtering tool.

If you don’t have one already, another necessity of a Web-use management program is to develop a sound Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) consistent with corporate culture. The AUP should describe acceptable and unacceptable Web-use behavior, i.e., company rules for what constitutes desirable, acceptable, unacceptable, and abusive use of the Internet and other network resources. The policy should also clearly state how compliance will be monitored and what the consequences will be to employees abusing the use of network resources. Does your company have an AUP in place that spells out the rules to your employees?

To ensure adherence to the Web-use policy, it should be clearly communicated to the entire workforce, including management, informing them of what is and what is not acceptable in easily understood language. You may also want to have employees acknowledge that they read and understood the policy through a signed acknowledgement. HR and management personnel should hold meetings with workgroups to answer questions and provide any additional information. This fosters open communication in the workplace and allows employees to be more engaged in proper Internet usage.

In addition to communicating the policy to all concerned, another requirement of an effective Web-use management program is training employees on how to use Web access productively and safely. Whether training is conducted or coordinated by HR or in collaboration with managers and other department personnel, training sessions should cover Internet usage and related subjects. Specifically, employees need to be made aware of what sites they are visiting and what they are clicking on the Web. The purpose of training should be to encourage proper, productive, and safe use of network resources while reinforcing the information in the AUP.

An important requirement of a Web-use management program is to use a reliable software tool that is designed specifically to monitor compliance with Web-use policies and proactively control Web access. The tool should also include a smart reporting engine that distinguishes between user clicks (visits) and unsolicited traffic (hits) and easily presents accurate and up-to-date Web-use data, identifying desirable Web usage as well as unacceptable use and trends. Does your tool include a Smart Engine that analyzes Web traffic to better interpret human behavior? Does it generate easy-to-read, manager-ready reports? Does it give details on employee Web use with drill-down reporting capability? These are key features of a Web monitoring and filtering tool that will benefit IT, HR, and department managers.

Another activity that is necessary is following up with corrective actions when inappropriate Web access is detected. With a policy in place, personnel oriented, the workforce trained, and your Web monitoring and filtering solution actively monitoring and controlling Web use, there are still more activities to do. The tool will inevitably reveal patterns of inappropriate use or disclose signs of outright abuse. These incidents will require attention by HR and management personnel. After identifying the problems, management can take appropriate follow-up actions, such as counseling employees, training or retraining workers, changing work processes, and revising or clarifying the AUP. Managers may also need to institute follow-up audits on individual users and, in worst case, take disciplinary action including termination.

The final element of an effective employee Web-use management program that I will cover involves the establishment of a continuous improvement process by the collaboration team, i.e., HR, IT, department managers, etc. In this process, there would be frequent reviews of employee Web use, new Web services introduced into the network, and new security threats, modifications of work processes, and appropriate revisions of the AUP. All company stakeholders would be involved. What other activities have been effective in your company in managing employee Web use?

Unauthorized Web use can degrade workforce productivity, impact network performance, threaten network security, and create legal liabilities. Any of these outcomes can seriously impact your bottom line. An effective employee Web-use management program is essential to prevent this from happening. If the responsibilities of an effective program are carried out well, misuse and abuse of network resources will be minimized without damaging workforce engagement and morale. Getting accurate, actionable information to all collaborators is a must, and the tool that you are using should be able to provide this information. Next time I will discuss how to get this information with reliable metrics generated by a reporting tool.

Read more of my articles on Web-use management on LinkedIn and the Wavecrest blog: WaveNews.

World Cup 2018 starts next week… is your business ready?

The US may have disappointed many by being knocked out of the World Cup 2018, but don’t think fans will want to miss watching the games anyway. No matter where you are geographically, the World Cup is an event that carries fans even when their team doesn’t make it all the way! Is your business prepared for your employees’ inevitable streaming and Web surfing?

Even four years ago, many may have watched the World Cup on cable or satellite TV versus streaming. In 2018 though, many, known as cord-cutters, have even chosen to remove cable services at home and just stream on their televisions–making streaming a new way of life! Since the games are based in Russia this year, the time difference will likely cause games to be during working hours not only in the US, but even in Europe. Which means, devoted fans, I mean employees, may end up streaming at work potentially slowing down or clogging your bandwidth.

There is also the neverending threat of phishing e-mails and malicious ads. They tend to increase exponentially around events like this. Now is the time to make sure you have tools in place to block intentional or accidental access to malicious URL links, and have some refresher training for your employees on what to look for, avoid, and report.

The World Cup doesn’t happen often. It might be time to just let them catch some highlights on company time. But that doesn’t mean you have to risk productivity, bandwidth speed, or network and data security. CyBlock allows you to choose how much or how little risk, and to even change your mind in the middle. Let them enjoy without sacrificing your organizational priorities.

CyBlock® Employee Web Filtering and Monitoring Solutions provide advanced Web filtering, threat protection, comprehensive employee reporting, Smart Engine analytics, easy-to-use admin and manager portals, and more. Customers can easily configure CyBlock to monitor and manage compliance with their usage policies. CyBlock is available in various deployment options: CyBlock Software, CyBlock Appliance, CyBlock Mini Appliance, CyBlock Cloud, and CyBlock Hybrid as well as a Virtual Appliance version.

About Wavecrest
Wavecrest has over 20 years of proven history of providing reliable, accurate Web-use management and Advanced Log File Analyzer products across various industries. Managed Service Providers, IT specialists, HR professionals, Forensics Investigators, and business managers trust Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products to manage the human factor in business Internet usage — managing cloud services, reducing liability risks, improving productivity, saving bandwidth, and controlling costs. Trusted by large government and commercial organizations such as US-CERT Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, USPS Office of Inspector General, National Grid, Johns Hopkins, and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies. We are a proud long-term GSA contract holder. For more information on the company, products, and partners, visit Wavecrest.

No more consolidation confusion . . . just leading employee Web-use management solutions that fit.

Companies change, grow, restructure, merge, acquire, and get acquired. It’s business and we know how that can be. Those of us that have seen this happen from within know that true impacts to the general business structure and overall goals don’t really show up for a year or two. Rarely does an acquired or merged business stay the same. The impact though can be internal, within the employee structure or daily business operations, or there can be  more obvious external impact to the financial status of the business, such as going private, or to the customer base focus. The last being the most likely to cause a domino-style effect of disruption.

Now is the time to really consider how to handle the consolidation changes that have been announced by Forcepoint. With the Raytheon acquisition of Websense a few years ago, everyone knew changes would come eventually. Unfortunately, the recently announced business consolidation will tend to leave some traditional Web-use management customers out in the cold. Whether you were a Websense customer before Raytheon or have gone to Forcepoint looking for the Websense-style solution in the last few years, you know what you are looking for from a Web-use management solution. Give CyBlock and Cyfin a try. Depending on what you need for your unique business, the first and only decision you need to make is Wavecrest. With deployments to fit every business size, type, and need, Wavecrest will allow you the comfort of moving away from the large corporate hassles to a successful, mature, privately held vendor that proudly focuses on customer needs and technological advancements.

Leave the government contractor-level pricing, contractual terms, and confusion behind. Don’t become another ticket number. Let Wavecrest focus on your business and your specific requirements. Contact us and speak to a U.S.-based customer service or technical support person today. We consider it part of the job to keep our customers happy.

CyBlock® Employee Web Filtering and Monitoring Solutions provide advanced Web filtering, threat protection, comprehensive employee reporting, Smart Engine analytics, easy-to-use admin and manager portals, and more. Customers can easily configure CyBlock to monitor and manage compliance with their usage policies. CyBlock is available in various deployment options: CyBlock Software, CyBlock Appliance, CyBlock Mini Appliance, CyBlock Cloud, and CyBlock Hybrid as well as a Virtual Appliance version.

Cyfin® provides advanced employee Web-use analysis and reporting for a wide variety of gateway devices and log file formats. Comprehensive yet easy to use, its customized reporting capabilities supply audience-specific Web-use information with reliable metrics, easy-to-read reporting dashboards, manager-ready detailed audit reports, and Smart Engine analytics. Cyfin is available in various deployment options: Cyfin Software, Cyfin Forensic, and Cyfin VM.

About Wavecrest
Wavecrest has over 20 years of proven history of providing reliable, accurate Web-use management and Advanced Log File Analyzer products across various industries. Managed Service Providers, IT specialists, HR professionals, Forensics Investigators, and business managers trust Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products to manage the human factor in business Internet usage — managing cloud services, reducing liability risks, improving productivity, saving bandwidth, and controlling costs. Trusted by large government and commercial organizations such as US-CERT Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, USPS Office of Inspector General, National Grid, Johns Hopkins, and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies. We are a proud long-term GSA contract holder. For more information on the company, products, and partners, visit Wavecrest.

Collaboration with others and acquiring the right Web filtering and monitoring solution are critical in IT’s role in managing employee Web use

When it comes to a company’s Internet-connected network, the IT department or person is responsible for not only providing the right access to the Internet to employees, but keeping the company’s network and data secure. In order to do this, IT must invest time in examining the most suitable Web filtering and monitoring solution for the organization and implement it. Besides deploying firewalls, network security equipment, and data loss prevention tools to keep hackers out, IT also needs to keep all company stakeholders informed about the latest tactics being used by hackers to trick employees and compromise security measures put in place. In this article, I will cover why collaboration and input from others as well as the need for research and implementation of the right security equipment are important in managing employee Web use effectively in the organization.

Today, the biggest security threats are not from firewall breaches, but from trusted internal employees who are getting tricked into doing the wrong things, compromising all the well-planned and expensive security measures put in place by IT. To ensure productive and safe Internet access by all employees, actual usage needs to be monitored and controlled. IT needs to implement a reliable Web security tool that can monitor and report on Web use as well as control access to specific Web sites. This type of tool would help identify threats and attacks in the company’s network and also deliver accurate results in Web activity reporting. It would provide data that is easy to consume by all audiences in the company including department managers and HR personnel.

Another important IT task in managing employee Web use is granting the proper authorization to users and groups in the company. In so doing, IT can restrict access to Web sites based on need, to only sites that allow the employee to perform his/her job, or to only data associated with managers’ authorized users. With the right tool implemented, IT can also send easy-to-read reports directly to managers by manual distribution via e-mail or automatic distribution via scheduling. To make their job even easier, if the Web security tool includes a reporting-only access portal, IT, by only controlling portal access privileges, can grant self-service access to managers and HR, allowing them to run their own reports on their authorized groups without needing assistance.

As part of their role in employee Web-use management, IT must collaborate with all company stakeholders, i.e., senior managers, Legal, HR, and department managers. When IT is looking for an appropriate tool for these collaborators to use, it is important that the tool includes a Smart Engine that analyzes Web-use data in order to better interpret human behavior. The generated information can then be easily consumed by all including nontechnical personnel. IT would not need to massage or manipulate the data or be burdened by having to answer a lot of questions. The generated information would be best presented in easy-to-read, manager-ready, drill-down reports that give more detail on employees’ Web traffic. As part of this collaboration, IT should share pertinent information with HR and management when the Web filtering and monitoring product reveals patterns of inappropriate use. In this way, HR and management can determine the appropriate action to be taken.

Cyber attacks are growing in prominence every day targeting small and large businesses. On average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since 2016. 1 in 131 e-mails contains malware. As the number of malware types and variants continues to grow and evolve to bypass your antivirus program and other levels of protection, it is necessary for your IT team to keep well-informed of the latest hacker exploits and attacks, and put in place a secure Web filtering and monitoring solution to detect and block malware and other online threats.

An IT administrator that is on top of how network criminals operate and their latest techniques needs to communicate with HR to adequately protect the network from intrusion. Prompt communication of hackers’ latest tactics that focus on exploiting employees will help HR formulate a proper training and informational program on how to identify and avoid these types of exploits. IT can help HR flush out what they need to be training employees on, i.e., what to do and what not to do on the Internet. This type of training will hopefully help reduce the likelihood that an employee will open a suspicious e-mail or click unsolicited attachments in an e-mail if opened, and help to better ideed or unknown sites. Are your employees being provided with this training

IT plays a fundamental role in the proper management of employee Web use. Every year, hackers come up with new ways to trick users into giving up sensitive data, revealing credentials to their accounts, or clicking links to malicious Web sites. It is imperative that IT take the time to thoroughly research and implement the right Web filtering and monitoring tool to protect employees and the company’s network. It is also critical that this tool includes a Smart Engine to analyze the technical data and provide the necessary information on human activity. IT also needs to communicate the latest hacker tricks and traps to all stakeholders in the company, including HR and management, so that the workforce can be properly trained. Collaboration, communication, and training are essential to an effective employee Web-use management program. In the next articles, we will delve into the requirements of an effective employee Web-use management program, the importance of creating a well-designed Acceptable Use Policy, and other topics related to employee Web-use management.

Please let me know your thoughts on and reactions to this article and my questions by adding a comment. What challenges does your IT department or person face in managing employee Internet use effectively? Is IT communicating security vulnerabilities and exploits to your HR personnel, managers, and other company stakeholders?

Follow me on LinkedIn or read more articles on Web-use management on the Wavecrest blog: WaveNews.

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