Monitor Employee Internet Usage: Balancing Efficiency, Security and Privacy

Last Updated on June 19, 2023 by Ian McEwan

“The internet has become a great distraction to the work process”

A survey conducted by found that 64% of employees visit non-work-related websites every day, and 39% spend one hour or more per week on personal tasks at work. Additionally, a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that the average employee spends more than two hours per week on non-work-related websites, which costs US businesses an estimated $178 billion per year.

Unrestricted internet access in the workplace can lead to various problems, especially for remote employees. To ensure productivity and prevent time wastage, many companies are turning to monitor employee internet usage.

However, it's crucial to do it right and strike a balance between efficiency, security, and privacy, considering the concerns raised about privacy and security.

In this article, we will explore the best practices for employee internet monitoring and how to strike the right balance between efficiency, security, and privacy, while being mindful of potential negative effects. Additionally, we will discuss alternative methods to improve work performance rather than solely relying on Internet monitoring.

Part 1: 3 Main Reasons for Monitoring Employee Internet Usage and Online Activity

There are various reasons why companies may want to monitor employee internet usage, but the following three are the most significant.

1. Protect company data and security

Monitoring employee internet usage helps protect sensitive company information and maintain robust cybersecurity. By keeping an eye on employee activity, companies can identify potential data breaches and security threats before they escalate.

2. Ensure employee productivity during work hours

Monitoring can help ensure that employees are using their time effectively and staying focused on work-related tasks. This can lead to increased productivity, better time management, and a more efficient workflow.

3. Manage remote teams

As remote work becomes more common, companies need to adapt their management strategies. Monitoring internet usage can provide valuable insights into how remote employees are performing and help identify areas for improvement.

Part 2: 6 Key Information to Track

When employers monitor their employees' internet usage, they may choose to track various types of information. However, many of them may not be aware of which aspects of information are typically monitored. To provide some clarity, here are several categories of information that employers may opt to track:

1. Website visit tracking

This type of monitoring involves tracking the websites employees visit during work hours, helping employers identify unproductive or inappropriate web browsing, as well as potential security threats.

2. Email communication monitoring

Monitoring employee email usage can help you identify any potential data leaks, as well as ensure that employees are not using company email for personal purposes.

3. Instant message monitoring

If your company uses instant messaging platforms, you may want to monitor employee usage to ensure that they are being used appropriately and not for personal reasons.

4. File download and printing tracking

This type of monitoring involves tracking the files employees download, print, or share, which can help prevent unauthorized dissemination of sensitive information.

5. Location tracking

Location tracking involves monitoring the location of employees during work hours. This can be especially important for companies with remote employees, as it can help ensure that employees are working in appropriate locations and not engaging in non-work-related activities outside of the designated work area.

6. Keystroke and app monitoring

This type of monitoring involves tracking the keystrokes and applications employees use, providing insights into productivity and potential security risks.

While the extent of surveillance is at the discretion of the employer, there are basically only a few primary methods available for setting up workplace surveillance and tracking internet usage.

Internet monitoring software is the best type of employer monitoring.

mSpy Employee Activity Monitor

Gain powerful insights into your team's productivity and efficiency with mSpy which provides detailed information on time spent.

Record every keystroke and set alarm for specific keywords

Spy on all social media apps, FB, IG, Twitter, Snapchat, etc

View SMS/IMs, call logs, contacts, emails, browser history

Sending Real-Time Alerts

Block non-business-related websites and program

Part 3: Best Way to Track Employee Internet Usage

If you're looking for a way to keep tabs on your employees' internet usage, mSpy could be just the tool you need.mSpy Main Interface

This employee internet monitoring software is designed to provide an in-depth look at how your team members are spending their time online, including how often they're using social media during work hours.

With its powerful desktop and mobile app, mSpy empowers your team to stay productive at all times. Whether you need to keep track of individual or team performance, mSpy is an invaluable tool for optimizing your business operations.

mSpy helps to boost productivity and reduce unproductive internet time.

mSpy Employee Activity Monitor

Gain powerful insights into your team's productivity and efficiency with mSpy which provides detailed information on time spent.

Record every keystroke and set alarm for specific keywords

Spy on all social media apps, FB, IG, Twitter, Snapchat, etc

View SMS/IMs, call logs, contacts, emails, browser history

Sending Real-Time Alerts

Block non-business-related websites and program

How to Monitor Employee Internet Usage at Work with mSpy

Step 1: Click here to visit mSpy and create an account.

create mspy account

Step 2: Follow the instructions provided by mSpy and install mSpy on the target device.

Step 3: Configure the setting and monitor the device.

mSpy Control Panel

Once mSpy is installed and configured, you can begin monitoring the target device. You can view the data collected by mSpy by logging into your mSpy account from any web browser. With mSpy, you'll have access to a range of monitoring features, here are what you can get with this internet usage monitoring app:

  1. Track visited websites and urls through Browser History
  2. Record system login names with the Keylogger or Screen Recorder
  3. Track the duration and frequency of internet use
  4. Monitor all social media chats
  5. Find out who they’re calling and meeting
  6. Network filtering involves restricting access to certain websites, online services, and wifi
  7. etc.

This powerful software can be used to monitor all internet activity of employees working in any location, whether they're in the office or working remotely from home. You can gain a better understanding of how your employees are using the internet, allowing you to create effective company internet usage policies or block certain websites to reduce distractions.

mSpy Employee Activity Monitor

Gain powerful insights into your team's productivity and efficiency with mSpy which provides detailed information on time spent.

Record every keystroke and set alarm for specific keywords

Spy on all social media apps, FB, IG, Twitter, Snapchat, etc

View SMS/IMs, call logs, contacts, emails, browser history

Sending Real-Time Alerts

Block non-business-related websites and program

More options for employee internet usage monitoring

In addition to mSpy, there are other widely used tools that specialize in monitoring employee internet usage, such as Flexispy and TheOnespy, which are specifically designed for PC monitoring and offer comparable features to mSpy. Click Here to learn more about The Best Open Source Employee Monitoring Software.

Part 4: Legality of Employee Internet Usage Monitoring

In many countries around the world, employers have the right to monitor employees' electronic communications and internet usage, as long as they inform employees of the monitoring and obtain their consent.

For example, in the US, employers are permitted to monitor all activities on company-owned devices according to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Also, the Stored Communications Act lets you monitor employee electronic communication saved on company computers. This includes computer usage that might not even be on-premise.

As for in Europe, employers can monitor employees' network usage but must comply with the laws and regulations of both the EU and individual Member States. This includes the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to any U.S. or multinational business that has employees in, or monitors the behaviors of, individuals in the EU

Anyway, to monitor employee internet usage, employers must have a legitimate reason for monitoring collect the minimum amount of data necessary to achieve their objectives.

FYI: Here are some specific regulations related to employee monitoring in different parts of the world:

CountryRegulations About Employee Internet Usage Monitoring
United States

Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

Stored Communications Act (SCA)

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

European Union

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

ePrivacy Directive

Human Rights Act


Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

Privacy Act

Canadian Human Rights Act


Privacy Act

Workplace Surveillance Act

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act

Part 5: Potential Negative Effects of Monitoring Employee Internet Usage

While employee monitoring can have benefits for businesses, there are also potential negative effects of monitoring employee internet usage. Here are some of them:

1. Decreased employee morale

If employees feel like they are being constantly monitored, it can lead to a sense of distrust and decreased morale. This can lead to a negative work environment and decreased productivity.

2. Invasion of privacy

Monitoring employee internet usage can feel like an invasion of privacy, particularly if employees are being monitored outside of work hours or for non-work-related activities.

3. Increased stress and anxiety

Knowing that their internet usage is being monitored can create feelings of stress and anxiety for employees, which can negatively impact their mental health and well-being.

4. Legal and ethical concerns

In some countries and industries, there may be legal and ethical concerns around monitoring employee internet usage. Employers should be aware of the specific regulations and laws in their country and industry to avoid potential legal issues.

5. False assumptions

Monitoring employee internet usage can lead to false assumptions about employee behavior and productivity. It's important to consider other factors that may impact employee performance, such as workload and job satisfaction.
Overall, businesses should carefully consider the potential negative effects of monitoring employee internet usage and weigh them against the potential benefits before implementing an employee monitoring program.

Part 6: How to Balance Efficiency, Security, and Privacy Concerns When Implementing Monitoring

Balancing employee monitoring and privacy concerns can be challenging, especially when it comes to implementing employee monitoring policies. Correct communication and implementation are key to ensuring their effectiveness and avoiding potential legal issues. Here are some ways to balance employee monitoring and privacy concerns:

1. Develop clear policies and communicate the policy clearly

Businesses should develop clear policies around employee monitoring that are clearly written and communicated to all employees.
This can be done through an employee handbook, company-wide email, or a meeting with all staff. The policy should outline what is being monitored, why it is being monitored, and how it will be monitored. It's important to emphasize that the monitoring is not meant to be punitive, but rather to ensure compliance with company policies and protect company assets.

2. Obtain employee consent

In some jurisdictions, employers are required to obtain employee consent before monitoring their activities. Even if consent is not required by law, it's still a good idea to obtain it to ensure that employees are aware of the policy and their rights. Consent can be obtained through a signed agreement or acknowledgment form.

3. Respect employee privacy

While monitoring is necessary to protect company assets, it's important to respect employee privacy. This means that monitoring should be done in a way that minimizes intrusion into employees' private lives. For example, employers should avoid monitoring personal email and social media accounts.

4. Limit monitoring to work-related activities

Employers should limit monitoring to work-related activities only. This can help to reduce privacy concerns and ensure that employees are not being monitored outside of work hours or for personal activities.

5. Minimize data collection

Employers should only collect the minimum amount of data necessary to achieve their monitoring objectives. This can help to reduce privacy concerns and ensure that employees' personal information is not being unnecessarily monitored.

6. Use secure data storage

Employers should store any data collected through monitoring in a secure manner to prevent unauthorized access. This can help to protect employees' privacy and sensitive information.

7. Train supervisors and managers

Supervisors and managers should be trained on the monitoring policy and how to implement it effectively. They should also be trained on how to handle any employee concerns or complaints related to monitoring.

8. Monitor consistently

Monitoring should be done consistently and fairly across all employees. This means that the same monitoring policies should be applied to all employees, regardless of their position or seniority.

9. Review and update the policy

The monitoring policy should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is still relevant and effective. It should also be updated to reflect any changes in technology, company policies, or legal requirements.

By following these steps, businesses can balance the need for employee monitoring with privacy concerns and create a work environment that is both productive and respectful of employees' privacy rights.

Part 7: Other Methods to Improve Work Performance and Protect sensitive company information

Aside from employee internet monitoring, there are several methods that organizations can use to improve work performance and protect sensitive company information at the same time. Here are a few examples:

Implement a strong password policy

Encouraging employees to use strong passwords and changing them regularly can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive company information. Passwords should be complex, unique, and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Provide cybersecurity training

Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices can help prevent data breaches and other security incidents. Training should cover topics like phishing scams, malware, and social engineering tactics.

Use multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to employee logins by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a fingerprint scan or text message code. This can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Restrict access to sensitive information

Limiting access to sensitive data to only those employees who need it can help prevent data leaks and other security incidents. Access controls can be implemented through role-based permissions, network segmentation, and other methods.

Regularly update software and security patches

Keeping software and security patches up to date can help prevent security vulnerabilities from being exploited. This includes operating systems, applications, and other software running on company devices.

Use encryption

Encrypting sensitive data can help protect it from unauthorized access in the event of a data breach. This includes encrypting data in transit and at rest.


Balancing the benefits of monitoring employee internet usage with the need to respect employee privacy and rights is a complex task. Companies must carefully choose the right monitoring tools and methods, implement policies in a fair and transparent manner, and regularly review and evaluate their effectiveness. By taking these steps, businesses can protect their sensitive data, ensure employee productivity, and maintain a positive, trusting work environment.


1Is it legal to monitor employee internet usage?
Yes, it is generally legal to monitor employee internet usage. However, companies must comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA, and maintain transparency and obtain employee consent where necessary.
2What are the best tools for employee internet usage monitoring?
Some popular tools for employee internet usage monitoring include mSpy, Flexispy, and TheOnespy. It's essential to choose a tool that meets your company's specific needs and requirements.
3Which industries commonly use employee internet usage monitoring?
Employee internet usage monitoring is used across various industries, including finance, healthcare, education, government, and technology. However, any company that relies on digital tools and has concerns about productivity or data security may choose to implement internet usage monitoring.
4What to consider when choosing monitoring software?
These include the cost of the software, the number of employees to be monitored, usability and security. It is important to be aware of the total cost of the software before choosing one. The size of your company will play an important role in choosing the right employee monitoring software. Employee monitoring software is meant to be a solution and not a problem, so usability is an important factor to consider. Lastly, it is important to make sure that any employee monitoring software you purchase has been designed with security in mind.