Monitoring your users' Internet activity is an often unwelcome part of an IT professional's job. Few of us want to be the office's secret police. However, many companies require some level of Internet monitoring to ensure compliance with usage policies and to track problem users.If monitoring software is too costly for your IT department's budget, you may want to consider a technique that uses existing Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 functionality. In this IT Dojo video, I demonstrate a simple monitoring solution that uses Windows Server 2003 Group Policy.
Before watching the video, you should realize this tip isn't right for every situation. This method uses Windows XP and Internet Explorer's local browsing history. To view the history files, you must physically visit each machine, remotely access the machine, or copy the files to a network location with a script. Furthermore, a sophisticated end-user could easily navigate to and delete the browser history. This monitoring technique is best suited when monitoring a small number of users, or better yet, a single, problem user. If you're looking for a more robust Internet monitoring solution, I recommend you go with a commercial service or application.
After watching the video, you can read the original tip in Derek Schauland' article, "Control users' temporary Internet files and browser history using Windows Server 2003 Group Policy". For more Internet usages and monitoring advice, check out the following TechRepublic Resources:
- Yes, I am the Web surfing police
- Data protection vs. individual rights
- E-mail and Web Use Monitoring: Good or Bad?
- Craft your own Internet usage policy with this sample
- McAfee lists Hong Kong as most dangerous domain - Now what?
- Network monitoring for fun and profit
- Common Internet attack ports
- SolutionBase: Use PacketFence to stop unwanted network traffic
- 10 things you should do to a new PC before connecting it to the Internet
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. He was most recently Managing Editor for TechRepublic Pro. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.