Every Click You Make

h ave you ever tried to get the latest executive orders off www.whitehouse.com, only to discover your access to the site has been restricted? Are you wondering how this could happen when you work for a federal agency?

Like a growing number of workplace personal computers, yours probably is monitored by Internet filtering software, a set of electronic eyes that spy on individual workstations or servers to keep users from surfing to off-limits sites. (You're looking for www.whitehouse.gov, by the way-whitehouse.com is a pornography site.)

Web Inspector, a cyber observer from Elron Software of Burlington, Mass., can block users from Web sites an agency deems offensive and alert supervisors when certain sites are visited. The software sleuth compiles detailed reports on usage faster than an overzealous fifth-grade hall monitor.

Elron's E-eye already is in use at a number of federal installations, including Naval Station Newport in Newport, R.I., where it keeps tabs on employees' surfing habits.

"The product requires little to no administration," says naval station spokesman David Sanders. "In addition, real-time alerts notify the appropriate command personnel when a policy violation occurs."

Far from being the Gestapo of the Internet, says Korey Ferland, Elron's product marketing manager, Web Inspector allows agencies to set certain limits on the Internet habits of their personnel. Many organizations have no problem allowing some personal Web use, he says. But with the Web-enabled tracking device, an agency can quickly assess how much time employees spend working online and how much they devote to nonwork surfing. Elron sells user licenses in groups of 25 and bases prices on volume. The Web Inspector is available through the GSA schedule and off-the-shelf at select retailers. Users also can obtain a trial version at www.internetmanager.com.

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