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What is a Network Spy?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 16, 2024
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A network spy is a type of computer program that allows one party to remotely view the computer usage habits of another. The program can be installed one one or multiple computers, making it useful in both commercial and private settings. A network spy can monitor Internet and program usage, key strokes, and chats. It can be set up to take intermittent screen shots as well as allow real time viewing of what is being done on a computer. As indicated by the name of this computer program, it is difficult to impossible for a person to find the program on a computer being monitored.

The primary function of a network spy is to monitor Internet usage. The software application can allow someone to view browser history, bookmarks, temporary history, and emails of another person without his or her knowledge. A more advanced network spy is capable of blocking websites and applications so they cannot be accessed from the monitored computer. This function of a network spy can help employers to determine how their employees are using company time. It can also be helpful in making sure that untrustworthy websites aren't visited, therefore protecting a company or school network from being infected with a virus. For parents, the network spy can allow them to monitor their child's Internet usage, thus better protecting their son or daughter from predators.

A network spy can also keep a record of all of the programs used on the computer, including what information is typed. This can be helpful in determining whether company time is spent on playing computer games or whether cheating is occurring in a school computer lab. The Internet keylogger keeps a record of every keystroke made on the computer; this can record the information being transmitted, what is being worked on, and what, if anything, is being said in chats or emails.

Outside of recording all of the previously mentioned information, a network spy can also take screen shots of the computer being monitored for future viewing. This can be set to happen randomly, at certain intervals, or on command. This feature allows for hard proof if any negative actions are necessary against the user of the computer; a college, for example, could prove that a student plagiarized a paper if it obtains a screen shot of the student ordering an essay over the Internet.

Many different network spy versions also allow for remote viewing of the monitored computer in real time. This allows for random checks on what the employee, student, or child is doing on the computer at any given moment. All of this is accomplished without the knowledge of the person being spied on; data is transferred to a primary control panel that can be accessed at will. Most network spies cannot be found on the monitored computer without extensive searching, making it a discreet means of determining how a company, school, or home computer is being utilized.

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