An Employee Monitoring Solution with Fully-featured Video Recording and Insider Threat Detection
Teramind is an employee monitoring software available as a cloud or on-premise solution. Compared to other employee monitoring solutions, Teramind offers a balanced approach to employee monitoring and insider threat prevention, with an emphasis on the latter.
Although Teramind is compatible with PC and MAC OS, it currently does not support or monitor Android or IOS devices.
After testing Teramind, we believe the core of their platform is automation. With over 200 pre-defined policies, users can create new policies or customize existing ones easily. Some of Teramind’s key features include: automated alerts, website/application blocking, live view/historical video recording, intelligent session mining (optical character recognition), keystroke logging, rule-based risk analysis, and remote desktop control.
Upon logging in, users will be brought to their dashboard, containing two presets — Enterprise and Focus Dashboards, providing a snapshot of employee behaviour. One unique feature that Teramind offers is the ability to create your own dashboard from scratch – this is useful as businesses can select metrics that matter most to them and locate them all in one place for easy access.
Based on our criteria, a notable drawback of Teramind is that key features such as Network Monitoring, Email Tracking, File Transfers, and Behavior Rules are unavailable for MAC OS. Furthermore, as Teramind does not offer Password Management or any Mobile Device Management, these sections will not be considered in this review.
What should you be looking for?
We believe that the best employee monitoring software should have a few crucial components. Let’s see how Teramind stacks up against other solutions, starting with Attendance Tracking.
We found Teramind offers limited attendance and time tracking features.
Upon starting up the portal, users will notice the TIME WORKED section located top left. Here, Teramind provides Project-based Time Tracking that simply tracks the amount of time employees have spent on a specific task. Currently, Teramind does not take into consideration factors such as employees taking extended break-times, remote work schedules, and holiday accounting. Reliable attendance tracking can help managers gain eye-opening insights into employee behavior, motivation, and productivity.
The main attendance tracking feature offered by Teramind is device log-in and log-off times. Traditional attendance & time tracking systems such as these have a critical flaw: they cannot verify if the person logging in to the device is who they say they are. Truants can have a coworker sign in for them or fudge time sheets – fraudulent practices to falsely claim hours of work and effectively steal time from employers.
On the other hand, competitors such as KnowIT offer a Biometric Attendance System via fingerprint identification –which accurately tracks attendance, providing data that can be crossed referenced with other relevant metrics to give measurable attendance and productivity scores. Biometric attendance can be especially useful for companies with a large or distributed workforce. The result is higher accountability, cleaner records, and finer metrics of employee productivity.
How does Teramind measure productivity?
Teramind monitors employee activity in real-time through website/application categorization and mouse/keyboard logging. Furthermore, all keystroke logs are indexed to help managers gauge employee productivity and generate user analytics.
In Productivity Overview, Termind provides an Active vs Idle Score based on mouse and keyboard input, and a Productive and Unproductive Score based on time spent in categorized apps & websites.
Teramind’s main productivity feature is its Active vs. Idle Analysis which tells you how active employees are on average for a selected time range. This is calculated based on the user’s keyboard and mouse input recorded at 5-minute intervals. No typing or mouse activity equates to 0% productivity, while typing at 45 words-per-minute or higher equates to 100% productivity.
Although this can be a useful metric, there are limitations to simplifying productivity in this manner. For example, managers will not be able to verify whether employee keyboard and mouse activity is work-related. Furthermore, results can easily be manipulated if an employee understands how the company measures productivity. For example, they could create false positives by padding stats and boosting their activity score.
Fortunately, Teramind does provide context.
As all user activity is recorded, managers can gain insights by viewing screenshots or video playback to interpret whether any keyboard/mouse input activity was indeed productive, though it is notable that this process can take up a lot of time, especially in larger organizations.
Like many employee monitoring solutions, Teramind’s productivity tracking involves selecting which applications and websites you consider productive and unproductive. Thereupon managers will be able to view the total time spent on each app or website for individuals, per department, or for the whole organization.
An additional feature which Teramind includes in its productivity section is a Payroll Report. In the Employees Section, managers input their staff’s hourly or yearly wage, this information is then used to calculate an employee’s Total Rate by cross-referencing their wage rate with the gross amount of time spent logged on to their computers. In our opinion, the usefulness of this feature in terms of tangible insights is questionable.
Compared to Teramind’s other features like Application Management and Data Loss Prevention, we feel Teramind’s Productivity Tracking features are underwhelming.
When looking at Teramind’s capabilities around analyzing and improving employee productivity, it’s worth noting that Teramind consider insider threat detection to be their primary function, while productivity features are a bonus.
As Teramind CTO Isaac Cohen puts it, “Productivity is a small use case for us. We collect all log data. It (Teramind) has been used by human resources to monitor users in different departments, customize groups, optimize employee’s use of time, and optimize licenses on software based on their usage. Productivity is a case, but it is a byproduct of collecting all that data on IT.” (TechTarget)
When it comes to considering Teramind as a primary productivity tracking tool, C-Suite execs should be asking themselves if what they need is a productivity optimization solution, or a DLP-oriented one. This is especially important given the premium prices of unmodulated employee monitoring software such as Teramind.
Overall, Teramind provides a satisfactory approach for measuring and optimizing productivity. However, more metrics and depth will go a long way to increasing the value of their productivity tracking.
With limited attendance and productivity tracking features, businesses may want to consider other employee monitoring solutions which offer modulated services and pricing.
Teramind’s Website & Application Monitoring allow businesses to optimize work processes by gaining an understanding into how much time each employee spends on an application or website. It also allows you to block any website or application that you deem risky or unproductive.
For example, in Behavior Rules, Teramind provides a default set of rules for when an employee exceeds their daily time limit on social media or accesses any prohibited apps. Conveniently, these rules can be customized for any action an employee takes. Managers will then have the option to warn or shut down the activity altogether.
In the same tab, you can set up Anomaly Rules to send employees a prohibition alert for when an undesired app or website is visited, as well as keyword alerts which indicate rogue behavior. Furthermore, Visual Screen Recordings, Keystroke Logs, and Audit Trails are indexed for every minute an employee spends on any website or application.
In terms of application management, Teramind lets you group and monitor application usage across your business. Additionally, it identifies where any software or security protocol upgrades are needed. However, it is worth noting that unlike other competitors, Teramind only shows app usage per device and lacks a Global Application Directory that allows you to view all applications installed on every device in your company.
Lastly, Teramind’s fail-safe feature, allows an admin to take full Remote Desktop Control over a device. In the next section, we will look at how this can be a useful Data Loss Prevention feature and other ways Teramind can help protect your business.
Data Loss Prevention
Teramind’s Data Loss Prevention strategy centers around user behavior. Specifically, Rule-based Risk Analysis achieved through Behavior Policies, Alerts, and Anomaly Detection.
We found that Teramind offer a user-centric approach for intelligent and effective Data Loss Prevention.
Teramind’s Behavior Policies include over 200 pre-defined rules and templates that are available from the get-go. You can also set new rules for any observable user activity and define who the rule includes and excludes, as well as set up what triggers the rule. For example, rules can be set to proactively block activity such as an employee sending an email that contains sensitive information outside of the company’s network.
Alerts and Notifications will trigger based on the policies set by an employer or manager. Teramind can email administrators immediately when a rule violation occurs. In addition, violations and their trends can be viewed in the detailed Alerts Report.
Teramind’s Anomaly Detection helps to notify admin about high-risk users and activity and can also be used to proactively block users from performing any activity deemed risky.
User Risk Ranking can be configured based on type and frequency of activities and job role, this can help managers identify and focus on high-risk individuals. Employers can set up specific rules to notify, block, redirect, log out, or even lock-out the user depending on the severity of the offense.
An interesting component that helps to minimize false positives is customizable threshold settings. For instance, certain actions will only trigger for repeated violations. An employee accessing Facebook once or twice a day may not lead to any repercussions. On the other hand, an employee accessing a sensitive folder thrice a day can lead to a prohibition alert.
A flagship feature advertised by Teramind is Intelligent Session Mining. Here, the software uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to retrospectively identify malicious intent or insider threat. OCR indexes all text that appears on the screen including those on images, remote desktops, as well as JAVA apps. For example, you can censor or set alerts for when credit card information or similarly sensitive data appears on the screen. OCR session mining also allows you to search for particular keywords, such as when an employee sends an email containing confidential information out of the company. For added context, managers will also be able to recall a video feed or screenshots of those occurrences.
At the time of this review, OCR is a feature unique to a couple of platforms including Teramind. However, it is not without error or limitations. For example, even if the original scanned image is high-quality, they can potentially include inaccurate or missing text. In these cases, OCR analysis becomes labor-intensive to correct any errors as the administrator will have to compare the original document with the electronic text to be certain.
As useful as these features may be, they nonetheless entail a substantial amount of dedicated man-hours to continuously fine-tune rules and review alerts on a case-to-case basis, not to mention the software’s considerable implementation process. The amount of configuration required may cause unnecessary delays and take up a manager’s time that may be better spent elsewhere.
Teramind also offers Clipboard and Print Tracking, along with File Activity and File Transfer Tracking. Like many other employee monitoring solutions that offer DLP, the software can be used to track access, creation, deletion, edits, copy-paste, and printing of all internal files. Managers can conveniently create Alerts Notifications when sensitive files are copied to a USB, uploaded to a cloud, or attached in an email. However, when we tested the record attachments feature for e-mail tracking, it would only work approximately 2 out of 5 times. Lastly, access to specific folders which may contain sensitive data such as source code files can be blocked, whether on local drives, networks, or any storage devices.
Although not fool-proof, these features are an effective first line of defense against sensitive data leaks.
For a more fail-safe approach, Teramind’s Remote Desktop Control allows managers to take control of an employee’s device. This is an effective way to contain and eliminate potential threats in real-time.
Considering the depth and customizability of features, Teramind can be considered a top-tier DLP solution. Through its policy-based system, it successfully restricts certain actions that could be tied to insider threats and more importantly lets businesses review a recording of all activity. The last of which can be especially useful when conducting investigations into potential security risks or in the aftermath of a security breach.
With Teramind, businesses can prevent data leaks, track an incident before and after it occurs, identify risky behaviors, and swiftly analyze an employee’s digital fingerprints. Making it one of the better DLP solutions available today.
Network Activity Monitoring
In our opinion, Teramind offers basic Network Activity Monitoring.
Teramind’s Network Monitoring Tools tracks unusual bandwidths, network traffic, and port usage.
Administrators are able to monitor network traffic – outgoing connections, remote hosts, amount of data transferred in or out, connection duration, and number of connections over time. While the Network Report details information such as target host IP and bytes uploaded/downloaded.
Network Activity Alerts can also be customized for the same metrics. For example, you can get alerts when an employee exceeds bandwidth limit or visits an unsafe destination IP. Importantly, Teramind’s network monitoring lets users block connections or data transmissions from individual IP addresses or computers.
This is important because network attacks are growing in prominence every day.
According to the Ponemon Institute, it takes most businesses 197 days to detect a breach on their network.
Many businesses may have underlying network vulnerabilities and not have a clue, as network attacks become more complex, businesses will take even longer to realize they are compromised.
More network analysis-oriented solutions will allow you to identify what specifically caused the suspicious network activity. For example, KnowIT allows users to set thresholds for irregular network activity, allowing for the detection of DDOS zombies, botnets, and spambots. Having in-depth network analysis and security in place will allow you to detect emerging threats before they infiltrate your network and compromise your data.
We believe one advantage Teramind has over competitors is the ability to monitor employee activity in real-time, rather than providing snapshots that can be viewed later. Hence, one of their better features is the ability to see a Live View or Historical Video Playback of any given employee behavior or activity. With one click managers can go to a live feed, audio, or video recording of the exact moment a policy was violated or an alert was triggered.
Teramind also offers Instant Message Monitoring which records and displays any conversations users may have on popular messengers like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype for any specified period. Some of the advantages include the ability to block chats that contain inappropriate keywords, receive alerts when users chat with certain people or on certain platforms, and track conversations that contain multiple participants.
As part of IT Forensics, Teramind also tracks webmail, browsers, and most search engines. Every URL and website that is entered is added to a user’s log which can be viewed at any time. Through Behavior Policies, Teramind allows businesses to block e-mails or specific phrases from being sent on any platform, so long as they match the criteria you have specified.
Based on our user experience and criteria, Teramind’s Archive Data Communication features offer everything you expect to find in an employee monitoring solution.
Teramind does not offer modulated features or pricing.
This means if you want any of Teramind’s features you will be required to fork out a significant amount of dosh, without being able to choose what features you would prefer to pay for.
Due to its compulsory 5-user minimum, Teramind’s cloud-based solution with DLP starts at $250 per month. Alternately, for $2,500 a year, you can select the annual billing payment option and get 2-months free. Compared to other employee monitoring software, we believe Teramind adopts a premium pricing strategy.
Depending on your company’s specific needs and budgeting requirements, you may be better off checking out Editor’s Choice KnowIT which starts at $2.99 and offers modulated features, flexible pricing, as well as no minimum user requirement.
Teramind is one of the most comprehensive employee monitoring solutions available today.
Teramind’s video recording features ensure that there is a ‘so what’ aspect to all collected data, providing insight into every employee activity, while the automated alerts system is second to none.
However, some limitations of Teramind include minimal attendance and time tracking components, lack of modulation and flexible pricing, as well key features such as Network Monitoring, Email Tracking, File Transfers, and Behavior Rules being incompatible with MAC OS. Furthermore, given the significant onboarding and implementation process, users can expect a lot of trial and error. If your business lacks an established IT infrastructure or if you require a quick set-up, immediately effective on-the-go solutions such as KnowIT or DeskTime might be more suitable for your needs.
We would recommend Teramind to any businesses looking for an employee monitoring or data loss prevention tool. From a 5-person software start-up to a large corporation, this solution will help your business run as safely and smoothly as possible.
Ultimately, depending on the needs of your business and what value you hope to gain from this kind of solution, your choice of employee monitoring software could be vastly different.