Pearl Software Inc.’s Cyber Snoop tracks and controls Internet usage in a variety of configurable ways.
Available in both desktop and enterprise versions, Cyber Snoop can log activity from the Web, FTP, newsgroups, e-mail and chat, including Java-based chat sessions, said Phil Ortega, vice-president of sales and marketing for Pearl in Bellevue, Wash.
“Each one of the five categories are independently configurable, so if someone chooses not to monitor e-mail, they can shut off just e-mail. Within the e-mail configuration they can choose to just save addresses and no text, or they can keep a log of everything that occurs. But each of the areas can be independently configurable, shut off or turned on,” Ortega said.
He said the product tracks by recording keystrokes, saving e-mail text, logging activity and taking screen images.
Ron Johnson, associate university librarian for computing systems at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C., manages the library’s public terminals with help from Cyber Snoop Enterprise. He said he appreciates being able to configure the product to do what he needs without having to follow rules set out by a software vendor.
For example, although one of Cyber Snoop’s primary reasons for being is to allow parents or IT administrators to censor pornographic or offensive sites, Johnson said he is able to configure the product without having to act as a censor.
“We do not censor in any way the content of other sites [students] go to. It can be gross or whatever else. We don’t do censorship. We just say you can’t monopolize these machines for chat and mail,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Cyber Snoop comes with a list of blocked sites like many filtering products, but unlike other filters he has tried, he was able to turn the block list off and start with a blank list. He said he watches the logs to see if users are accessing freemail or chat sites, then simply adds those sites to his blocked list. The next time a student tries to access that site, they get a standard Netscape error, Johnson said.
“There’s also the ability to tell people that you are recording what they do. We don’t use that either because we don’t really [watch their actions]. The software has the ability to save the text of any e-mail message that anyone sends. We have that turned off. I don’t want that stuff on my server. I don’t have space for it, I don’t have time for it, and I just don’t care. What I care about is they slipped through to that chat site or e-mail site. And now I know what that site is, and they won’t be able to do it tomorrow,” Johnson said.
Ortega said there is no need to worry that an ISP could snoop on its customers using Cyber Snoop, because even the enterprise edition requires a component to be installed on the client machine.
Pearl Software suggested that users of Cyber Snoop ensure they have an acceptable use policy or other Internet usage policy in place in conjunction with Cyber Snoop.
Cyber Snoop Version 3.0 Pro is priced at US$59.95 with discounts available to educational institutions. Cyber Snoop Enterprise pricing depends on the number of licences, with 50 licences priced at approximately US$2,497.
Pearl Software in Exton, Pa., is at 1-877-732-7579 or on-line at www.pearlsw.com.