IT Policies optimize

Network LookOut Administrator Professional: The Right Tool for the Job?

Network administrators often need to monitor computer usage to make sure that users are adhering to organizational policies. Network monitoring tools are also helpful when providing help desk assistance over the phone, to make sure that the user is not having trouble following your steps. Scott Lowe investigates whether Network LookOut Administrator Professional is the Right Tool for the Job.

The Job

Network administrators often need to monitor computer usage in their organizations to make sure that users are adhering to organizational policies. Network monitoring tools are also helpful when providing help desk assistance over the phone, to make sure that the user is not having trouble following your steps.

The Tool

Network Lookout Administrator Professional

Network LookOut Administrator Professional provides you with a way to see live screens of remote computers. It captures the physical console environment and redirects the output to a remote workstation. The product does not use a virtual desktop. Further, communication between the client and the host can be encrypted in order to protect your organization's information.

The Right Tool for the Job?

Network LookOut Administrator can be an incredibly useful product for an IT help desk or for a company that wants to monitor the computing activity of its employees.

The company actually produces four products:

  • Net Monitor for Employees
  • Net Monitor for Employees Professional
  • Network LookOut Administrator
  • Network LookOut Administrator Professional

The Net Monitor for Employees is the most limited of the group, and does not even support remote agent installation, nor does it support remote control. It's a view-only product. Net Monitor for Employees Professional, on the other hand, is the most feature-filled of the four and even includes the ability to record a remote desktop.

Outside of a help desk scenario, I can see where this line of products would be useful in organizations worried about employee productivity or adherence to computing policies.

Read my comprehensive screenshot review of Network LookOut Administrator Professional.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

39 comments
nastxt
nastxt

great article. thanx i actually got to know about this wonderful tool thru yo article. tthanx lots

dherde
dherde

Well..... Novell Zenworks for desktops (In fact the whole zenworks suite) appears to top this with little effort.

cabanossi-21666366011136960807907799337173
cabanossi-21666366011136960807907799337173

BIG BROTHER is watching you but who is watching big brother? This kind of tool may be good for spies, thieves and tyrants. The attitude of managers who deploy such tools would keep me away. Also I am under the strong impression that this is not only a breach of the dignity of the individual but also against the law - almost everywhere

sgiri_india
sgiri_india

Tool looks like better, how we can get it?

verd
verd

I will stick with VNC, its free and works for what I need without spending cash or company money.

loss4words
loss4words

This is not a review, or an evaluation. This is thinly veiled advertising. Please attempt to ACTUALLY review things in the future, or at very least say something useful? Like perhaps something that reading the marketing spiel on their website won't? VERY poor effort.

akklaxon
akklaxon

My corporation uses DameWare Mini Remote. I love the tool and it is VERY intuitive and the interface is extremely simple to use. It will query your directory and allow you to connect to any computer on your domain without the client being installed first. VERY wonderful tool and extremely simple to use.

babogar
babogar

does this product to be any better than VNC? especially since I can get VNC for free...

jaf
jaf

I've just started playing with this free program and it seems pretty well equipped. Jef

tech
tech

Novell's Zenworks for Desktops is an awesome product, and is what I use. However it is not really in the same class as this 'ad'. Since it also allow you to push Policy, settings and even applications. Image and re-image workstations and so much more. Oh by the way it has a quick easy way to remote view and remote administer too! ;^)

tech
tech

You are looking at this from the perspective of a high school student. Look at it from the perspective of an IT professional. Should my company be punished because employee X illegally downloaded 10,000 songs for his iPod? Or because employee Y decides to spend his lunch hour surfing Porn sites and ends up getting a virus that compromises 200,000 Social Security Numbers, allowing Identity Thieves to run wild? I don't think so. My charge is to keep that information safe, and to do that I must know and control what happens on my network. Just like in the rest of the world 2% of the people spoil it for everyone. Why do you think they have speed cameras now? Cameras to take your picture at a red light if you run it? Security cameras in nearly all public companies?? My charge is to keep the network secure, keep all the data secure, and ensure productivity. One can not do that without keeping tight reigns on the computer system and it's users. I have worked for the same company for 8 years and in 8 years we have had ZERO infections, mostly due to the tight controls I have in place (including only allowing downloads from sites I deem 'Trusted'). As part of our computer usage guidelines we state in part"...the computers and anything stored on them are the property of the company . . . You agree to only use the phone, computer, internet and e-mail systems for work related tasks and understand that all usage will be logged and may be monitored. . ." It is legal to monitor and enforce usage guidelines. The rules are not nearly as stringent for a company 'spying' on employees, as they are for the government 'spying' on citizens. Since we have said up front the computers, Internet connection, e-mail system, phone system, building and all work product is our property we are allowed to monitor it and frankly would be crazy not too. Of course you are employed under an 'At Will' contract so either may terminate it at any time. To turn the clock back 20 years, in my state only one side need be aware that a telephone conversation is being recorded and you do not need to provide a 'recording tone'. If you think your ISP and even most web sites you visit don't track your every move, and do it legally you are quite mistaken. Some years ago I needed to have my septic tank pumped. I got on-line and did a yellow pages lookup to find someone. I never entered my e-mail address, home address . . . yet for the next two years I received 100s advertisements via e-mail, as well as snail mail, and even sales calls for various septic tank services and products. I realized then that it was time to lock things down.

ben
ben

...for someone to comment on this issue (monitoring employees). While my legal team tells me it is in fact perfectly legal for an employer to monitor employees usage of company resources (based on California), as a management consultant and creator of very productive engineering teams, I'll tell you it is unwise. Policies such as monitoring employee computer usage are huge productivity and resource sinks. If you are concerned about employee productivity, establish clear goals and objectives, and meaningful ways to evaluate performance. The problem for many organizations is that these two tasks are actually hard, and require talented leadership and competent management execution. It is easier to look for "time wasting" activities. Sure, some people might spend 7 out of 8 hours browsing non-work related sites, but I'll contend (and frequently advise clients) that you should notice this in preformance...and if not, why care? If the employee does the work well, who cares if he spends hours browsing mutentfarmanimals.com? That said, monitoring tools are very valuable IT tools both for support and ensuring peak network performane. The key is policies: desktop monitoring should never be "covert" and traffic analysis focused on technical network performance issues like finding where the bandwidth is going. In my experience, companies that worry too much about what employees are doing when "not working" either in the office or outside, hurt their productivity greatly. It is an old story but one that doesn't ever go away. Same reason some managers are uncomfortable with tele-commuting: they don't know how to measure performance, so the are uncomfortable not "seeing" work getting done (but of course, in the real world, bodies at desks is not work being done). Dilbert is not fiction.

mark.brewster
mark.brewster

Its not against the law to monitor what somebody does on company equipment. People shouldn't be using company equipment to do something that, if seen, they would get in trouble for. I agree with not *wanting* to be spied on though.

nhahajn
nhahajn

Almost every company monitors its employee's to some extent. Programs like this are also a god send for remote troubleshooting. If your employee's sign a consent form/acceptable use policy then there is nothing wrong with using these types of tools to monitor and help them. But this article does look more like an advertisement more than a review. What happened to Journalism?

rayden61
rayden61

I've noticed the mention of VNC in a number of posts and was curious which one you guys were using. I tried ULTRAVNC before switching to WINVNC. This is also free and works great over our network especially if you are connecting externally via VPN.

s31064
s31064

I agree completely. This was a complete waste of space and my time.

wsmith
wsmith

A lot of their "articles" seem to come across this way to me.

bobby_q_doe
bobby_q_doe

Low over head, no third party application.

serge_soroka1984
serge_soroka1984

I've found a very inexpensive remote desktop tool (Techinline Remote Desktop www.techinline.com). My clients absolutely love the ease with which a connection is established, and at $30 a month, it's the perfect solution for what I do

adsl3lyb
adsl3lyb

There is no denying that the speed and ease of use and security of the remote admin software product are key factors when deciding your remote administration tool of choice. I can't see however any reason why most of these factors are not dealt with by the network's structure itself. That is, instead of buying software work arounds that cost companies unecessary money, why not have a secure, fast and usable network structure in place first and then consider wether paying subscriptions for freely available software is necessary? I think vnc is the very best and honest solution to remotely administrating a network/server and that if you have a secure VPN transactional lan from a remote location, you can happily localize the vnc traffic to be secure. I vote vnc :-)

crisantoap
crisantoap

I tried UtraVNC, TightVNC, and a dozen different kinds of remote software. But only VNC (RealVNC) satisfied me. The only thing I want to know is, if anybody knows how hide the icon on the taskbar as some users knows how to close the service from the taskbar. Or does anyone knows any remote software that can run as a service and no icon is displayed on the taskbar?

BaapidMakwa
BaapidMakwa

I love VNC, actually, couldn't live without it as a "session state preserver", but until it deals with multiple displays, it's useless to me as a Windows desktop remote admin tool.

nirajks
nirajks

Yeooo ... Big Brother's reply ROCKS ;)

crisantoap
crisantoap

I realized I cannot play big brother all the time. Otherwise I'll just waste time trying to find out what users are doing. Instead it would be better to use the time to focus on the more important issues in keeping IT in tip-top condition.

woosterpc
woosterpc

I'm not sure how many precedents exist but I consult for a company that monitors every keystroke that an employee makes, both at work and at home. They have used employees passwords to look at personal email accounts among other things. If this is not against the law then it's pushing the envelope on ethical behavior.

akklaxon
akklaxon

three keys, Ctrl, Alt, Del. i have those in DW and MANY other functions you will never get any built in remote manager.

richard.faucett
richard.faucett

You can hide (sort of) the task manager bar by clicking on the gray area surrounding the box. Users will be unable to access process or application management. (Unless they know how to reactivate it again). You can reactivate it by clicking on the gray area.

collinsauve
collinsauve

VNC does deal with multiple displays. depends on what server and client you are using. I use it every single day for remote admin and a lot of my clients have 3-4 displays

alaniane
alaniane

The company can monitor their equipment; however, if they are monitoring the personal equipment of their employees then they're opening themselves up to liability claims. Personally, I wouldn't work for a company that demonstrates such a lack of trust in their employees.

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

...there are some companies which provide the computer for work to be done at home, and have regs about what can be done on that computer since it is provided by the company. In that case, they may also have this kind of software on that computer, vs. it being malware.

mritchie
mritchie

As a consultant and support tech for over 20 different company networks, i know the value of software like this, and others like VNC Ent. they are invaluable when you need to troubleshoot or view an issue before ever going onsite. For those techs that have a desire to peer into peoples personal data, even when it is on company workstations, they should be held responsible for any misuse of it. On the other hand, if a client has an employee who is using their workstation to view pron and this is causing a security issue internally, then the company has all the rights in the world to view personal files, since it is apparent that they dont know how to use their privilege for the right reason. As for keyloggers on home machines, that is very possible, one tool that does actually can be a hidden service on a MAC or PC at home that will record every key you push and email a copy of that record to anyones email address anywhere every week. These are illegal! And should never be used on company systems or home systems by anyone. They often include in the source files, a great deal of malware, which should tell you the intention of the original programmer. Company Policy also should be very clear on these matters, and as we do, we notify employees before ever viewing their systems to ensure they are aware they are being monitored.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

.....Or did they use a magic program that uses your employee password at work to access your personal email account at home? For that matter how do they monitor every keystroke you make when you are at home? If they are doing that then it sounds like they are breaking the law. If they are monitoring what you are doing with their email account and their computer equipment or their company truck they are well within their rights. I hope that helps to draw the line between law and ethical behavior.

klewis
klewis

I've worked in several aspects of IT compliance and security over the years, reviewing data on company equipment is not illegal- after all there is no real right to privacy since the company does own the computers, servers and even the data on them. However, if the company is not setting the employees' privacy expectation up front and openly informing them from the beginning that their data may be reviewed from time to time (employee data and communication policy, etc), I would certainly question the ethics of that company.

Gh0stMaker
Gh0stMaker

Most admins would agree that VNC is almost a must have in our daily toolbox at least used on a LAN. I would not recommend it over the internet forwarded on a router due to security limitations.