This app monitors program logs and screenshots to keep track of employees – consensually, of course
Remember the story in 2013 about the developer who outsourced his entire job to China and spent his days surfing Reddit and watching cat videos?
The rogue employee eventually got the hook after activity from VPN logs picked up China even though he was sat at his desk. Yet with this app, he probably would have been stopped sooner.
Meet Weagill. The app, launched last week by Weiskleint Enterprise in Denmark, enables bosses and business owners to take webcam images, screenshots and program logs every 15 minutes the app is running in a machine.
Weiskleint Enterprise is run by Frederik Hvidklint, who tells Enterprise CIO in an email that he is ‘“only” 19.’ Why the quotation marks? Because Hvidklint has spent half a dozen years combining education with entrepreneurship. These include developing various iPhone games, creating a betting website, and setting up an apparel business.
As the name suggests, this venture is Hvidklint’s first into the enterprise market – and even that was somewhat by accident, as he explains when asked about how the idea came about.
“The idea of the product came to me when a local crime case was running in my city,” he says. “Once these two [defendants] were described, as a joke my mother said ‘that could have been you’.” The story got Hvidklint thinking. Internet logs and search history are one thing, but does that alone lead to a conclusive alibi that a person wrongfully charged was sat at their PC at the time of an alleged crime?
Through testing, Hvidklint realised his idea had various use cases, from employee tracking to concerned parents checking up on their children’s online activities.
As previously mentioned, had the rogue developer’s machine been equipped with an app such as Weagill, his nefarious activity may have been caught sooner. The screenshot of a cat video and a webcam shot of him sitting at his desk, all time-stamped, would surely be evidence enough. But what of the ethical issues?
In August, a court in Germany ruled that using keylogger software to monitor workers was against the law after an employee was fired for working on non-company projects. As Naked Security took up the story, in April 2015 an email circulated around the company in question saying internet traffic and other work-computer use would be permanently logged and saved, without going into any more detail.
The keylogger software used by the employer not only logged key strokes, but also transmitted screenshots of monitor output, similar of course to Weagill. But as Hvidklint notes, it is the consent aspect which is vital – which was not in use in this case.
“I do see why some would categorise it against the law,” he explains. “However in my opinion, if an employer or business owner wants to log their employees’ activities, then the employee should be made aware of the fact, just like the case with CCTV for private citizens.
“In the case of key logging I find it to be a little different than the logging done by Weagill,” Hvidklint adds. “This I mean because when using a key logger, everything the user enters on the computer is logged – this also includes passwords. Therefore the key logger would be at higher risk of compromise and the employee’s information would therefore be at a higher risk.”
For now, while Hvidklint admits it may be difficult to get people ‘hooked’ onto the idea, he says one reviewer has praised Weagill for its plug and play functionality and ease of use. As the app is just about showing who is using the PC to prove the identity of the user, key logging was never a factor. Ultimately though, there are a variety of possibilities, as the press release announcing the product confirms.
“Weagill is a logging app, made for both the virtual security of any user and at the same time an app made for keeping track of what is being done on the user’s PC,” the release notes. “This means some of the purposes of the app could also be – but isn’t limited to – a logging software to keep track of a business owner’s employees or keep track of a child’s activity while using the computer.”
You can find out more about Weagill here.
Picture credit: Weagill
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