Can anyone recommend something that allows us to take hidden periodic screenshots of a workstation?

We have a user who we believe is abusing his computer privileges. We have our suspicions that he may be playing games, etc. We need to monitor his screen without him being aware of it.

Currently, the IT Department here is using Dameware Mini Remote Control to view his login sessions. But there isn't an option to set up automatic periodic screenshots. I'm hoping to find a tool that has this option and can be centrally managed as well.

Thank you for your time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • 3
    Make sure you get detailed instructions in writing from management so you are protected should anything go awry! – Starfish Jan 15 '12 at 15:54
  • 1
    Does this employee perform well? Do you satisfied with his performance? If not, then ask him to improve, if not improved, then fire him. That's all. Never spy on employees as no one want to work feeling like somebody always watching over the shoulder. – Calmarius Sep 18 '15 at 12:21

You can use nircmd. Of interest is this part:

Save 10 screenshots in a loop, and wait 60 seconds between the screenshot save calls. The filenames of the screenshot will contain the time and date of the saved screenshot.

nircmd.exe loop 10 60000 savescreenshot c:\temp\scr~$currdate.MM_dd_yyyy$-~$currtime.HH_mm_ss$.png

You can start it remotely with psexec like so:

psexec.exe -u user -p pass -i (remote session id) \\hostname c:\remotedir\nircmd.exe etc.

  • Interesting -- and an elegant solution. – ssxuser80 Feb 4 '11 at 21:56

In my opinion (and experience), technology rarely solves behavioral problems. If your problem user is essentially not working when he or she should be, I suggest the appropriate supervisor take him aside and in a non-confrontational manner bring up the issue; something along the lines, "Look we think you're not pulling your weight here and that you are abusing your computer privileges... this behavior isn't what we expect out of our employees... what's going on?" (And remember, an ounce of praise along with whatever your issues are with this individual will go a long way). If you're just looking for "proof" so you can take repercussive actions, whatever they may be... I again suggest the appropriate supervisor or manager deal with the issue. If the problem user is really spending all day playing computer games instead of working, it should show in his work. Make that the issue, not the "game-playing".

I apologize if this advice comes off as presumptuous, but treat your people like adults, address your issues like adults and things will be that much the better for it. Employee's don't react well to being (or feeling like) they are being spied on.

Just my .02 cents.

  • 2
    +1 I've rarely seen this type of monitoring go down well. As soon as it gets out that the management is spying you can expect the rest of organization to get pretty uncomfortable. Everyone goofs off during the day for a few minutes here and there, you cant really expect them not to. I've seen companies almost fall apart when it came to light that the management was secretly monitoring the internet traffic. – ErnieTheGeek Feb 4 '11 at 21:42
  • No, I appreciate your comments. The employee is someone relatively high up in the company. He's not someone that the company can easily let go. This user has been warned in the past about his computer behavior. He was browsing inappropriate adult-oriented websites. And he was spending alot of time viewing websites. Some of his colleagues brought it to management's attention. Management told us in IT Department to start gathering "evidence". So we began logging his web access. When we had a meeting with the user, he mentioned that the adult material was the results of popups. – ssxuser80 Feb 4 '11 at 21:43
  • So after the meeting, the logs didn't show any further adult websites. But then soon after, we've been hearing reports that he's been using his computer that doesn't connect to the web. Such as playing games and looking at pictures (possibly stored on his USB hard drive). It's harder to detect abuse of this nature. He can always argue that its his word against anyone else's. What we really need is "evidence". We won't be doing this for the entire firm. But he is violating company policy regarding computer usage. – ssxuser80 Feb 4 '11 at 21:53
  • That's hard position to be in, especially if you are just some "IT Guy" who's been instructed to carry out this kind of thing. I think Jeff Van's solution is probably a decent one, but I would caution you this: 1) make sure management knows that it is likely that this will backfire, 2) that management knows your feelings about this kind of approach, and 3) make sure you've CYA-ed yourself. You don't want to known by your co-workers as the creepy IT guy who spies on people. I don't envy your position at all. But try not to let management force you do their job for them (and take the fall). – 87cd25770a Feb 5 '11 at 0:47

Are these locally-installed games? If yes, why are they there in the first place? If you suspect Web games, you can check your firewall logs to track what IPs his machine goes to fairly easily or setup a proxy server to also track/filter with more detail.

  • We're pretty lenient on what users can install on their computers. As long as its during lunch hours or non-business hours, we're okay with users playing games. These are local games -- so they don't connect to any servers. He's also abusing computer usage through other local means such that a proxy wouldn't be able to detect them. – ssxuser80 Feb 4 '11 at 22:53

Impero might work. http://www.imperov3.co.uk/classroommanagement.aspx

Its designed for schools, but I think it will do what you want. It logs what windows have been opened, as well as various other activity. You can also block stuff. Try the demo.

I would agree with the above comments though. Make sure you have an acceptable use policy in place, and that you have your management on your side.

  • Thanks, I will check it out. There is a computer usage policy in place. – ssxuser80 Feb 4 '11 at 21:55

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