Whether you are so familiar with computer spy software products, you could write a book about the technology or you’re just getting started and need a tutorial, getting a grip on what computer spy software does and doesn’t do will help you evaluate the brand you choose to acquire once you compare best-selling software on the market.
By definition, computer spy software is a class of programs allowing a user or administrator to monitor the activity on other people’s desktops, at home or at targeted locations. Often associated with “malicious purposes,” companies have a vested interest in activities undertaken by employees and according to experts at WorkExaminer.com, spyware “is widely used all around the world and it is used legally!”
What are the benefits of spy software?
- Good spyware is properly installed by administrators/users with non-malicious purposes in mind.
- Good spyware won’t put computers at risk, reduce Internet connection speeds or interfere with other programs.
- Typical spy software often includes adware or ad-supported software bundled with programs.
- Spy software can assist administrators when they go about the business of checking security systems.
- Some businesses and users would not be able to function properly without having oversight capability that only spy software installation can provide to keep a company’s reputation and the bottom line healthy.
What information can you glean?
- Collect frequent-use information, tracks habits and keep tabs on repeat site visits
- Some spyware products are designed to install more programs
- Sophisticated apps have the capacity to memorize keystrokes
- Spy software may be able to modify or change operating system configurations
- These products can serve as security system analysis tools
- Can function as a screen scraper to snag visual data
- Most spy software is configured to capture and store screenshots
- May be able to function as a clipboard interceptor
- Gives administrators/parents accesses audio/video recording functions
- Some of apps are engineered to redirects browsers
- Spy software has the ability to launch applications, too.
Is it legal to have Spy software?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, software that tracks and/or collects data or personal information from people’s devices with or without their knowledge has become quite the hot topic. Some states have enacted laws targeting spyware; others have passed measures focused on “computer crime, fraudulent or deceptive practices or identity theft and that possibly could apply to some practices involving spyware.”
Curious about where your state stands? Visit this website listing citation specific to the 20 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, each of which has enacted laws targeting spyware that you may be interested in knowing more about: https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/state-spyware-laws.aspx.
In general, “relevant considerations include why the spyware is being used, state law and ownership principles,” say attorneys at HG.org legal services. That’s why a parent who pays for a child’s phone and an employer who pays for the computer network and devices used by workers that are targeted for monitoring have a legal leg to stand on.
That stated, HG.org notes that “A licensed private investigator can discuss the possible implications of using cellphone spyware and may be able to assist with completing this type of surveillance.” Because licensing requirements for private investigators are stringent, working with one could help you make a good decision about which of the following recommended applications would work best for you.
5 Best Computer Spy Software Products for 2020
This award-winning spy software has been around for 17+ years so all of the bugs associated with previous versions have been addressed over time.
You can run it in stealth mode, so nobody is aware they’re being monitored, yet this program is packed with 15 computer monitoring tools that have made it a favorite of bosses and parents alike. If you seek a well-reviewed and popular product, this one could be an ideal choice.
What can you do with it?
- Control and monitor your kids’ Internet behaviors
- View transcripts of all mail sent and received
- Adjust filter settings and check out activity reports
- Limit the scope of the time you monitor activity if 24/7 tracking isn’t necessary
- Keep tabs on social media conversations conducted by employees or offspring
- Comes with various reporting modes that include remote access and email
- Track screenshots, websites, keystrokes, “restricted access attempts” and more.
- Designed as a monitoring system for kids and employees
- Provides data security
- Offers logging features that include download, email, web search and date stamping
- Save and archive everything you desire
- Competitively priced license runs $70 per user.
- Mobile version has no social media monitoring function
- You may find this brand’s customer service to be less than efficient.
Originally designed to keep track of employee productivity, ActivTrack gives you the ability to monitor more than one computer at the same time and generate detailed user reports that deliver the information you seek in a timely manner.
This handy tool is based on complex behavior analytics, but there’s nothing difficult about the user-friendly interface you can expect to find if you choose this software to take care of business.
What can you do with it?
- Record statistics describing how and when applications are used
- Retrieve screenshots from the most remote workstation
- Find out which websites, applications and systems are being used by staff or kids
- The image redaction feature keeps sensitive information private
- Gives you real-time monitoring capability
- Restricts access to suspect websites to protect your system and network
- Generates charts that report times users spent on each app.
- Record statistics about how and when apps are used
- Uses results to help employees improve their behaviors and productivity
- Can be installed remotely if you already use ActiveDirectory
- User-friendly interface and straightforward install
- All captured data can be stored on the Amazon Cloud.
- Company markets this software to Fortune 1000 companies; does this describe yours?
- Birch Grove Software, the app’s producer, has only been around for 8 years.
We’re not sure what this software company means when it claims that, “this software monitors and controls everything by policies,” so if you seek more information about SurveilStar, you may wish to find out.
This app helps businesses monitor employee communications activities and but gives short shrift to recommending it for at-home monitoring of children. That said, SurveilStar claims to be the best program on the market to detect internal threats, boost productivity and give you control of network operations from anywhere you choose.
What can you do with it?
- No compatibility issues; this app works with popular web browsers
- Stay in control of traffic via SurveilStar’s proprietary stealth security mode
- Offers administrators a user-friendly interface
- Keep tabs on kids and spouses; take advantage of the blocking option
- Record screen snapshots to assess what targets do in real time
- Program records incoming and outgoing IM messages
- Filter unwanted sites to ensure optimal system security.
- Take control of the whole system via a stealth and active security mode
- Program ensures all the loopholes on the internet and in the system are tightly sealed
- Monitor incoming and outgoing IM messages and conversations
- Applies time stamps to all content recorded
- Gives you tools to block some conversations.
- Not as highly-rated as competitor products
- The per license pricing scale is confusing.
Admit it: the name is intriguing if you’re a fan of action/espionage films, but this company claims that it’s prime purpose is to make SniperSpy “the best buddy” of employers or parents for the purpose of keeping tabs on time-wasting employees and kids who are more than willing to visit sites you wouldn’t approve.
Watch what happens live, save screenshots and monitor text logs, chats and keystrokes in a wide variety of languages, so even if employees think they can skirt your watchful eye by visiting foreign language sites, you’re on top of their behavior.
What can you do with it?
- Easy to install and use, even if you’re not a techie
- Browse activity from remote locations
- Use the online control panel to check out logs
- Block networks, chat and apps; filter websites
- Send commands to any interfaced remote system with add-on firewalls
- Can translate communications in foreign languages
- “The only remote monitoring software with a secure control panel,” insist SniperSpy programmers.
- Monitors chats, screenshots, keystrokes, location mapping, websites visited
- Real time screen viewer, keystroke viewer, application, search and URL surveillance
- HTTPS-secured control panel, remote uninstall capacity
- Remotely and locally deployable
- Advance security features include Top 10 report graphs and log page thumbnails.
- Limited number of features and tracking options
- Price just increased from $60 to $80.
Give it to The One Spy for a straight talk when reviewing their marketing materials and claims. Once you install this software, they note, “you will be able to sneak into any device anytime without getting caught.”
That means computers, tablets, and smartphones. Listen to online phone conversations remotely, access live screen sharing and view what’s going on via the spy camera app.
All data is collected and aggregated to TheOneSpy user control panel accessed with a personalize login from any system you choose. Pricing starts at $18 per month per user. Quarterly and annual plans are available from this Australia-based software producer.
What can you do with it?
- Interfaces with Android, Windows and Mac devices
- 360 Live Surround Listening support that controls Android phone mic
- Access to VoIP call log histories plus calls sent/received on target devices
- Tracks the history of calls sent and received; displays call logs with time stamps
- Can protect kids from bullies and predators by stopping personal information sharing
- Offers video capture of 15 to 60 seconds
- Easy-install directions for Android smartphones and tablets.
- Ideal choice for people wishing to monitor kids viewing habits
- Compatible with older cell phones, including Blackberries
- Take screenshots and post to the online dashboard
- Surround recording captures in-person conversations
- Includes a GPS location tracker parents appreciate.
- No Internet filters
- Dashboard is only accessible from MacBook or Windows PC.