Hardware

Review: Blackbox Security Monitor

Blackbox Security Monitor is a free tool that serves as a watchdog on your network; reporting and warning the administrator of certain activity.

Computer security is a critical issue for nearly every company on the planet. Being able to monitor PCs is often one of the most challenging aspects of this task. What do you monitor? Is there a line you cross that breaks a corporate policy? Do you need to capture screen shots of an employee's desktop? Do you need to run a keylogger? These and so many more issues are very delicate within a company.

But it's nice to know, when you need to address these issues, there is a tool out there that can handle it. Blackbox Security Monitor is a free monitoring tool that can serve as a watchdog on your network; reporting, monitoring, alerting, and warning the administrator of certain activity.

System requirements

  • Product: Black Box Security Monitor
  • Vendor/Developer: ASM Software
  • Operating System: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2003, 2000
  • Recommended screen resolution: 1280x800 or higher
  • Disk space required: 40MB minimum, 1GB per monitored computer recommended
  • Cost: Free

Who's it for?

Blackbox Security Monitor is for anyone that needs to monitor basic information/status of a particular machine on a network or monitor for other activity that might go against company policy (or other policies for that matter). If you need to monitor a users' Web activity, which applications a user is using, what searches the user is running, this is the application for you.

What problem does it solve?

Blackbox Security Monitor simplifies the challenging task of having to monitor the activity of a machine on your network. With this tool you can watch just about anything anyone is doing on any machine - so long as you have added said machine to the monitor.

Key features

  • Monitor every program launched
  • Monitor all websites and searches
  • Monitor computer usage times
  • Monitor all emails sent as well as send/receive on Hotmail/Livemail, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, and more
  • Monitor all keystrokes typed
  • Capture screenshots
  • Monitor all network traffic
  • Configurable alerts and warnings (received instantly or via daily summary)

What's wrong

The biggest issue with this application is not the application (or how well it works) itself, instead, it is the slippery slope of privacy. This tool should only be used in situations where an employee is suspected of suspicious activity or if there is a policy already in place that allows certain employees to monitor what other employees are doing on their PCs. Monitoring an employee's PC without a policy could spell serious danger for the company. So use this carefully and wisely.

Bottom line for business

If you have the policy in place and you suspect an employee of either malicious intent or wrong-doing, you will be hard-pressed to find a better tool for the job than Blackbox Security Manager. It's incredibly easy to install and configure, and does everything you need it to do and more. Just make sure this is done with a policy that will protect the company (and your job) before you even install it.

User rating

Have you encountered or used the Blackbox Security Manager? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
uttam rathod
uttam rathod

hello tell me user security policy and other security

psauve
psauve

ATTENTION Norton BLOCKS "BlackBox Security Monitor" and says that this software sends information back to ASM Software.

aiyan69
aiyan69

symantec endpoint protection detected a spyware on the installer package...

ProBasix
ProBasix

From their website: BlackBox Security Monitor is a 100% free product ? you can use it without any charge for your personal use. Please remember, this product is not allowed to be used permanently in business environments, such as small, medium and large businesses, government institutions and non-for profit organizations. However, we strongly encourage business and government customers to evaluate our products and provide us the feedback.

bboyd
bboyd

My companies view on privacy, "All employees should understand that they have NO EXPECTATION of privacy regarding anything created, sent or received utilizing Company computer resources and/or Company provided accounts. " Ah the fun. They hide the VNC icon but I can still see the process.

christop095
christop095

nice program! i have yet to find one that works well and this one seems to work well for screenshots. Still having some trouble with the keylogger and email portions. Thanks a million!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you used the Blackbox Security Manager? How well did it work? Do you have any concerns? Why is it free?

dave
dave

Had to do an exclusion for the app.

Iroc_n_roll
Iroc_n_roll

What do you think this program does? What kind of spyware did Symantec detect? Saying something is spyware doesn't mean a whole lot to me without further details.

jasonemmg
jasonemmg

Has anyone used this program to keep track of what websites employees are visiting during the day (of course on company time!)? Thanks. Jason

robo_dev
robo_dev

As with any surveillance tools, there is the possibility of abuse, misuse, or illegal use. There is a similar commercial product called eBlaster that was used in several bank fraud cases. Obviously any tool which logs every keystroke should only be used when the individual being monitored has no expectation of privacy, as in a educational or business setting. It would appear that, based on the company website, that this tool is geared towards parents, as it talks about a teenage-party where $45,000 in damages was done (yikes).

mamies
mamies

I have setup our Proxy Server in our company. There is a policy in place which all staff no about and realise that anything can be seen. We have squid installed ontop of CentOS and then SARG (Squid Analysis Report Generator) which then makes the report into a pretty website which I can visit to see which servers people have been to. This obviously only works if they go through the proxy server (if you have a proxy server you should lock your network down anyway).

Realvdude
Realvdude

For instance, if you are capturing what they are receiving from others, say in a IM application, you are now invading the privacy of a third party without their knowledge or consent. That's why when you call a company, they announce that the call may be monitored and recorded, thus staying on the line is a indication of permission.

b4d93r
b4d93r

it actually depends on where you live. For example, in Colorado, (Where I reside) as long as one of the parties involved is aware of the monitoring, it's perfectly legal. When it comes to underage children, they really have very little rights in regards to this kind of stuff. As a parent, you are in full control of everything. Everything they do, buy, read, ect. you have final say. If the child disputes this or it goes to court, the child will learn real fast how much power they really have. Privacy rights for children fall more under a "trust" scenario.