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SnapShot gives picture of Net usage

Administrators can learn what users are doing with a tool from Tinwald Networking.

Network administrators can figure out what their users are doing on the Net with Tinwald Networking's Internet SnapShot, an online monitoring tool due this summer.

SnapShot is designed to give managers a picture of a company's Internet use by monitoring protocol activity. The application shows administrators who is using what type of Internet application--email, Web, chat, file transfer, Telnet, newsgroup--but cannot detect specific URLs, email addresses, file descriptions, or other contents, a Tinwald spokeswoman said. The idea is not to spy on users' surfing habits but to show who is using what kinds of Net applications, when they're using them, and for how long.

Electronic monitoring in the workplace has become a sensitive issue as many employers have asserted their rights to read employee email and reprimand workers for visiting offensive or non-work-related Web sites. On the other hand, network administrators used to being able to chart usage patterns precisely sometimes feel frustrated in intranet environments, where there are far fewer tools for monitoring network activity than traditional LANs.

Scheduled to ship in August for $99, Internet SnapShot will run on Windows 3.x and 95 and will support Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Token Ring networks. Segmented LANs will require one copy of the software per segment.

A 15-minute demo of the software is currently available on the company's Web site.

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