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Departments : Computers & Software

TrueActive Monitor 5.0

This software tracks criminals’ computer activity in real time.

September 01, 2004  |  by Bob Davis

Data collected by TAM can be stored wherever you feel is appropriate. If you want to use the local drive, go ahead. But remember, a curious user may discover files if you leave them there. A better solution in a networked environment would be to store files on the server where they can be protected from prying eyes using Windows' own security features. Or, you may also decide you don't need to store files at all. In that case, TAM's setup routines will allow you to automatically delete after a set period of time between one day and 30 months. It also allows you to determine an archiving period if one is appropriate for the work you are conducting.

Data collected from the monitored computer is stored in TAM's database in proprietary format. The reporting module has tools allowing compression, conversion, and searching of data with a simple point and click. You may also export items from the reporting screens into text files, html documents, and pictures. TAM also provides you the ability to print out copies of the data reports.

Recently, there has been more and more discussion about privacy in the work place. If you're using TAM to monitor employees' computer habits at work this can be a sticky subject.

In California, the legislature attempted to pass a law that would equate the use of a work computer with using a work telephone, on which employers may not monitor employees' conversations. I don't agree with the premise that they are the same. Although telephone technologies are evolving rapidly, they are not capable of the same functions as a PC. In the end, the governor at the time agreed and vetoed the bill. This is a complex issue and needs much discussion and thought before we establish a standard.

If you believe using this product is a violation of employees' privacy, you can program TrueActive Monitor to display a splash screen or banner page to the user and customize the message to fit the guidelines set by your agency. If nothing else, a disclaimer would certainly mitigate any claims of, "I didn't know I was being watched," or, "They violated my privacy rights." In either case, until a court of law decides the privacy implications of monitoring software, use common sense when using the tool and ask your local prosecuting attorney for his or her opinion on its admissibility.

TrueActive Monitor is a good solution and possibly a preemptive tool to the growing problem of computer misuse. It might offend some because of its "Big Brother" aspect, but it can certainly help you determine what you're dealing with. Whether it's a criminal situation or an employee who has way too much time on his or her hands, TrueActive Monitor is watching.

Bob Davis supervises the San Diego Police Department's computer lab. He has 26 years of experience on the force.

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