Internet Usage Monitor

Posted on 2008-10-27
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
One of my clients needs a program that they can use to monitor what sites their users are going to when browsing the internet. What would you recommend? The network is kinda small (5-10 users, 1 server).
Question by:victornegri
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LVL 12

Accepted Solution

hfraser earned 125 total points
ID: 22815667
If you have a proxy server, there are many excellent logfile analysis programs available such as WebTrends, Webalizer.

Without a proxy server, you could analyze the firewall logs, but these files may be difficult to access, and the format may not fit the off-the-shelf analysis programs.

If the issue is important enough, perhaps a small proxy server (for this many users, it wouldn't have to be a large machine) with one of the analysis tools might be the easiest solution.
LVL 31

Assisted Solution

by:Justin Owens
Justin Owens earned 125 total points
ID: 22816032
My company has a few sites where the local manager wanted to monitor Internet useage.  We were able to negotiate a relatively inexpensive group of CALS for CyberSitter.
It does both what the manager wanted (block certain sites) and what we wanted (report on usage) without having to go through the hastle of a proxy.
LVL 10

Author Comment

ID: 22816698
We don't have a proxy server. Logs on the firewall suck (Netgear).

Do we need to install Cybersitter on each workstation? Does it have a way to deploy remotely?

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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:Justin Owens
ID: 22816944
Yes, Cybersitter needs to be on each workstation individually.  It is a single install exe, so remote deploymet could be achived via remote control, but I am not aware of a way to "push" it to the client machine.  When we were looking, we wanted an inexpensive solution rather than a technically robust (remote control and management) solution.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 22817096
If you want to implement a single-point logging and access control for web access, a canned proxy server distribution like Untangle is a powerful tool, delivered as a single installable CD. Have a look at their web site; all you need is a PC with 2 network cards to make it work. It acts as a transparent bridge.

It will give you the access control and logging. Granted its more complex than client-based products, but it provides a single admin and loggin point, and adds a bunch of other stuff you might see value in as well. It's free and Open Source.

Checking their web site, I see they've got some new "Re-Router" technology that makes a PC appear to be a gateway on the network, to save changes to the network for smaller sites.

Assisted Solution

lmkandia earned 125 total points
ID: 22817775
Depends on the client's budget really.
We've employed multiple different solutions at our client's sites.

1. Contentkeeper is the best one.
Requires a box (any old p4, 80gb drive,  512MB ram will do).
Annual licensing of about $65 / seat.
3 GB nics in the box.
Download their demo here -
Best of the solutions listed because it has granular filtering - boss can do what he wants on the Internet, the rest get "Page not Found" or a custom blocking page.
Amazing reporting features as well.

2. Sonicwall Content Filtering.
Need a Sonicwall TZ180 10 node - about $450
Need a Sonicwall Content Filtering subscription - $250 / yr for 10 node firewall
Once you invoke category filtering, they can't go anywhere without at least being logged by the firewall.
Not as good as solution 1 since there is no granular filtering.
White list and black list capability.
Key word blocking.

2b  Sonicwall w no content filtering.
Sonicwall can monitor your 10 most visited websites - for no extra cost.
Or the biggest bandwidth hogs.
You can then decide if you want to try to block entire ip subnets or a single ip to stop people from using their computers as dating services.
Couple it with solution 3 to get Internet logging on the cheap.
3 Kiwi Syslog daemon and Kiwi Syslog viewer.
Both these pieces of software are free.
Install the syslog daemon onto a box that has some drive space.
Log into your firewall / router that has syslog capabilities (the Sonicwall does).
Point the syslog service at the ip address of the box you installed Syslog daemon onto.
Change the logs to increment according to the date.
Then download and install the Syslog viewer to view the results.
To find the websites people are going to will now simply require a bit of hunting on your part (search for a user's ws ip address).

LVL 10

Author Comment

ID: 22819484
I've looked into Untangle before but this client doesn't want to purchase any additional hardware. I can see if I can sell them on the fact that it can run on an inexpensive computer.

I might be able to sell them on purchasing a Sonicwall with the content filtering subscription. I set up Sonicwalls at other clients but have never used the content filtering aspect of the firewall.

I'll look into Contentkeeper. It looks like a good product but again, would need to sell them on the additional computer.

Has anyone tried or heard of this product before?:

Assisted Solution

majidhajali earned 125 total points
ID: 22819589
if you use ISA server, you can use surf control web filter or bsplitter, but surf control is more professional and you can generate different reports.
if you don't have any proxy server, it's somehow impossible to do this. you can user cproxy as proxy server if you want a easy to use software.
LVL 10

Author Comment

ID: 22835873
I gave my client a list including the Spector CNE and Contentkeeper. Will see what they decide on. Thanks for your help!
LVL 10

Author Comment

ID: 22835881
Whoops... meant Spector CNE and Cybersitter (not Contentkeeper). They don't want to purchase another piece of hardware.

Expert Comment

ID: 22837522
Purchased Spector.  That one will be hard to "hide" in that it takes snapshots of everything the user does and slows down the pc while its doing it.  Does a great job.  But you can definitely notice a before and after hit.  Nevertheless, a VERY useful tool.
LVL 10

Author Comment

ID: 22842527
Can you disable the snapshot feature in Spector and just have it log URLs?

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