Corporate security systems
Security systems in the workplace have always been used in an attempt to deter a variety of behaviors from theft to sexual harassment. Large corporations, with their high-tech top-of-the-range alarm systems, are often difficult to penetrate from the outside and so their biggest security threat tends to come from those they employ. Monitoring employees is now common practice in approximately 78 percent of all companies in the US.
CCTV surveillance systems have come a long way since the first black and white cameras and VCRs. Modern technology has introduced wireless digital technology to the world of surveillance and it has been very well received. The biggest advantage of these digital surveillance systems is that they enable remote monitoring from any location in the world; perfect for large companies and jet-setting businessmen who wish to keep an eye on things wherever they may be. Live video streaming over the Internet or cellular network makes it possible to see what is going on at any time.
Large security systems incorporating wireless digital surveillance often have added features such as the ability to connect the surveillance system to the alarm system. This means that if the alarm is triggered, the surveillance systems begin recording the event that triggered the alarm. These security systems can even be set up to send an alert message along with live video images or snapshots, directly to any computer anywhere in the world. See the Digital Surveillance page for more information on these systems.
Electronic surveillance: monitoring computer systems
Corporate security systems have gone beyond the traditional form of monitoring the activities that occur on their premises. Telephone tapping and CCTV cameras have been a part of these security systems for years but a new form of surveillance has joined the list of commonly used monitoring techniques in the workplace: electronic surveillance.
Employees often use their work computers for personal e-mails, online shopping, gambling and even pornography so it is understandable that employers would like to know how their employees are spending their time and using their equipment. Simple software programs are used to track and monitor computer activities and most of the time, employees aren't even aware of it. The two main methods of monitoring computer activities are known as packet sniffers and desktop monitoring.
Packet sniffers have been used for years by network administrators to monitor their networks but this application has now been applied to the Internet too. Packets are basically small bits of information and normally a particular computer only reads the information that is addressed to it and ignores everything else. When a packet sniffer program has been installed it is possible to set the computer up to read all the information traveling back and forth on a network. This means employers can find out exactly which e-mails have been sent, which websites have been visited, what was looked at, and what has been downloaded.
Desktop monitoring is a system that enables an administrator to monitor every action taken on a particular computer: everything from keystrokes to which programs are being used to can be monitored. This means e-mails can be read and the employer will know exactly what the employee has been doing on his or her computer all day.
As far as employee privacy rights are concerned, the laws tend to favour the employer. The argument is that employers have a right to monitor activities that take place in their offices, on their equipment and during their time.