Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Gauging employees’ moods using their search trends

In today’s times, it is not difficult to understand the need for web filtering. The pervasive and ever-increasing threats being pushed through websites is always on the increase, and you should already know that you need to have multiple web security engines in place including a web filtering solution. Besides web filtering based on websites address and categories, there are a number of features which can stand out and give the company additional benefits. One of these is search engine query monitoring. By monitoring what a user is actively searching for on the popular search engines, you can gauge an employee’s mood. By monitoring these searches one can determine many things
  1. Whether the user is actively performing work related searches (most of their queries should be work related) 
  2. Whether they are doing anything suspicious 
  3. If they have particular personal or personality problems which might require the company’s assistance

So what exactly is search engine query monitoring?

Search engine query monitoring is the ability to identify and log the search terms when users perform a search on a search engine. So if I run the following query: the web filter will extract the “talk tech to me” keywords and log them.

Why is it useful?

Well, under most circumstances you will see mundane stuff, typically searches related to the users work and many times their personal interests. However, there are many instances which you can see things which the company probably wants to be aware of. Let’s say you find something like , you will immediately know that this user is trying to do something fishy. Even much more worrying would be if you find a query such as Essentially, besides the websites that a user is trying to visit, the searches they are conducting will give a very clear picture if all is ok, or if there is something wrong or any suspicious activities.

Great, tell me how to do it!

GFI WebMonitor provides this functionality is a standard part of its web filtering features. You can define policies to exclude users who you don’t want to be monitored if you wanted to, but by default users search queries will be monitored and logged.

What search engines are supported?

Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Lycos.  Queries on any of these search engines will be monitored. Given that Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia and other east european countries, GFI WebMonitor also supports search engine monitoring for Yandex.

Search over HTTPS? Will search engine monitoring work in this case?

We’ve seen many search engines sending search queries over HTTPS. This has created a bit of a furore in the web Analytics world, but this does not really affect GFI WebMonitor, since HTTPS scanning is supported. When this is enabled, GFI WebMonitor will still be able to inspect queries over HTTPS and thus the queries will still show up. This is also a security feature which ensures that if users are trying to visit HTTPS based websites, GFI WebMonitor can still monitor and protect the end user.

What value does this give me?

We’ve already identified a number of ways these helps you gauge the mood of employee’s in the company. Moreover, GFI WebMonitor has the ability to run a periodic report searching for specific keywords which you are mostly interested in. For example, by default GFI WebMonitor has a number of reports which can give a company value out of the box, without having to configure anything

1) TV Series or Movie Downloads – people attempting to search for TV series or movies to download which could lead to legal liability when pirated material is downloaded via the company’s connection

2) Adult and Pornography Searches – people attempting to search for Adult content via search engines despite you blocking Adult websites

3) High Risk Searches – searches for explosives, weapons, suicide or other possible problematic situations

4) Your own custom search term report – GFI WebMonitor allows you to easily create your own reports for specific terms, and in any language you want

Interested yet? Try GFI WebMonitor for 30 days and monitor what your users are searching for. You might be surprised!