General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2325755

    SpyWare there is a need.


    by jcmiller ·

    Ok this totaly rubs me the wrong way (as in I hate to do it) but I can’t figure out another solution. I have a user that I have to monitor, we sent up some batch jobs that pull information off our AS400, run some cobol programs to change the data (that have been around forever) and then starts a hyperterminal session to send the data to another server (changing or re-writing is not an option). The user tends to get click happy or doesn’t follow steps laid out and has problems with these batch files. I’ve set the batch files up so they do log entries, so I can track steps, but there are still open holes I can’t track (ie. such as does she actually upload or download a file during hyperterminal session). When I stand over there shoulder I catch mistakes and correct (all us techs have nothing better to do with our days right) but when the user is on there own I would say half the time it doesn’t work correctly. This person has complained to there boss about how this messed up things are, so we’ve had to replace the modem, buy a new PC, and re-wrote the batch files, my boss knows and agrees USER-ERROR. I figurged if I put spyware or some type of Snapshot Recording software on there PC it would help to prove our point and put an endto this challange.
    Does any one know any good shareware/freeware programs, and were I can get a copy or does any one have a better solution and I’ve already been over-ruled on shoot the user plan.


All Comments

  • Author
    • #3655691

      Be upfront

      by james r linn ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      Tell the user that you are trying to troubleshoot the problems shes been having, and you want to put a key stroke capturing software on her PC – I’d see if her boss was amenable first.

      I don’t know of any shareware/freeware ones – never used thiskind of thing before.

      I’d also wonder if there isn’t a better way to automate the process to take out the human factor altogether.


      • #3655655

        Reply To: SpyWare there is a need.

        by mrafrohead ·

        In reply to Be upfront

        If you want to monitor what she is doing, there are a few things that you can do…

        If you use it in a controlled environment and are careful with what you are doing, Sub7 or BackOrifice would be good for this type of thing, as they are free. They run in the background and they wouldn’t be readily seen…

        I would probably let her boss know that you are going to monitor her pc habits so that the boss doesn’t feel left out of the loop.

        But I WOULD NOT let the user know… Make it VERY clear to her boss that the user is NOT to know.

        Then thread your rope. Start to give it to her and let her run with it. After you have your evidence, you can then go and ask her. If she lies or gives you a story, show her the proof…

        It’s amazing how hard a rope can snap someone back to reality when you let them hang themselves with it…;)

        newho, i hope that this helps for you…

        You can send me a note if you need any further help.



        • #3655613

          Thats one way

          by james r linn ·

          In reply to Reply To: SpyWare there is a need.

          My way is less confrontational.

          There is a long standing principle in both the US and Canadian courts that its OK to monitor people as long as they know they are being monitored, but not OK to do it without informing them.

          My bet is that when you let someone know you are monitoring them, they will change their behaviour. And if they change their behaviour and the system suddenly seems to work, they might learn a lesson.

          You catch more flies with honey…..


        • #3655570

          Overall, I agree…

          by tomsal ·

          In reply to Thats one way

          I would say Mr. Linn’s advice should be tried first and foremost in this situation. Only resort to other “tactics” like the wonderful “Hang them by their own rope” strategy LOL….as a very last resort.

          If you are in a professional evironment andpride yourself as a professional, then try to solve situations with the least amount of agression/confrontation as possible FIRST.

          “You catch more flies with honey…” is one way to put it…

          My army buddy’s version of that saying is …

          “Save your bullets….” 😉


    • #3665702

      Perform a packet capture!

      by road-dog ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      Pull the user’s MAC address and perform a packet capture on it. (I’m partial to Sniffer). Using this, you will be able to correlate the (L)user’s problem with additional traffic created by additional activity.

      A smoothly running process that crashes right as the user begins downloading “Frampton Live” from Morpheus is the smoking gun you seek, without the intrusiveness of snoopware.

    • #3665594


      by madroxxx ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      If you wanted to monitor what they are doing in realtime you could use PCanywhere and do a remote sesion. As long as you didn’t interact(move the mouse) you could watch them discretely.

    • #3401311

      Spyware not the best answer…

      by madmark ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      Spyware is really a poor choice. Introducing it creates more exposures than it is worth. Without permission from high up the food chain, you could be perceived as committing espionage, or at least an invasion of privacy. BDU error (Brain Dead User) will always be a problem. How we handle it sperates us as professional IT persons from the huddle masses of the user community.

      You could use standard monitoring software, such as a sniffer, or something like sessionwall, and monitor ALL traffic so as to avoid liability. You need to consult your security policy to see if this is appropriate, and gain management approval. (neither of these ill capture keystrokes)

      To be pro-active is my preferred stance. You should be able to automate the process using batchfiles and scripts. Reduce the users’ interaction to a minimum. You could also make use of PCAnywhere. Tell the user that you are going to assist them, and want to capture any error messages that the system produces. Open the PCA session and start the process yourself. Open a chat window to keep a friendly dialogue going with the user. Let them know when you want them to type in a file name or other information. If all goes well, you will have a successful session. If not, you will have discovered the error.

      Now that the user has seen how to do it correctly, they should be able to follow the directions. Save the session and edit it for use as an educational tool. Send it out with the batchfile. A picture (or animated session) is worth a thousand text files!

    • #3401016

      The User is NOT the problem

      by prefbid ii ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      I would challenge the statement that you can not change the code. You can always change the code. It may be more expensive than you want to pay, but changing the code is always an option. Here are some simple steps to try.

      1. Lock server downat the start of the batch (old and stupid trick, but it goes along with bad programs that can’t run in parallel with other requests). Give the batch program 100% of the resources so that nothing else can happen.

      2. Lock the program so that the same program can not be launched while a copy of it is active.

      3. Take the launch process away from the user and give to an operator or a cron process.

      I personally recommend #3 and then #2. I would not try #1 unless you were desparate.

    • #3666028

      Keyboard monitor

      by djent ·

      In reply to SpyWare there is a need.

      Go too, they have some keyboard monitors. This is known as NLBK error(nut lose behind keyboard) and will blame everything else in the system for problems but seldom take responsibilty.

      • #3412791

        SpyWare there is a need

        by xenixpro ·

        In reply to Keyboard monitor

        Having followed the thread of this discussion raises one question for me. Is it the processs the user’s job function and the objective is to catch the user in not following instructions or is the overall objective is to have consistancy and reliablility to the entire process? If it is the former, then I agree to let the user know of your intentions of monitoring to resolve the problem, using spyware or PcAnywhere. If the goal is the latter, I suggest writing CL to execute the steps. I know thatyou can start an FTP session to transmit the file(s) to the other system; thus, automating the entire process.

        Also, seeing that the hyperterminal is being used, why not incorporate a communication software, like ProComm, to handle the transmissions automatically. I had in fact have done this where ProComm continuously looks for a particular file in a defined Windows directory, transmits the file then, if needed, archives the file in a different directory. With a few minor alterations and some minor script programming, this issue can be resolved with little expense and be more productive. This is, of course, IMHO.

        James Cook

        • #3655460

          problem source

          by djent ·

          In reply to SpyWare there is a need

          My understanding of the question was to identify the process leading to the error before fixing the problem.

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