Force finds Spector 360 a ‘real life-saver’

Spector 360 software enables police forces to monitor employee PC and
internet use, analyse trends and patterns, search for specific details
and investigate when something seems amiss.

Apr 14, 2011
By Paul Jacques
Picture: MPS

Spector 360 software enables police forces to monitor employee PC and internet use, analyse trends and patterns, search for specific details and investigate when something seems amiss.

The mission of virtually every regional UK police force is to provide the best possible protection for its citizens. As part of that initiative, one major regional police force in Great Britain uses Spector 360 to monitor every PC and laptop that it deploys in the office and in the field. Despite keeping the actual name of the program to itself, the force makes it clear to personnel that all computer activity and internet use is continually being monitored – serving as both a powerful deterrent against unwanted activity and as a way to safeguard highly-confidential information pertaining to investigations and informants.

The setting

The Spector 360 installation across 9,000 computers at nearly 200 physical locations was architected and implemented by a senior network communications analyst. A Spector 360 administrator is responsible for day-to-day monitoring.

The challenge
“Our main concern is leakage of information,” said the Spector 360 administrator. “The whole purpose of buying Spector 360 is an effort to detect leaking of information… the main risk being leakage to organised crime. We store vast information about all sorts of people – criminals and those who help the police. Leakage can put people’s lives at risk.”

The analyst added: “It’s a big security angle. We work with highly-prized, valuable data.”

Search for a solution

“We had an operation where we needed to monitor a number of computers in one of the police stations,” said the administrator.

The force tried using a popular remote control software package but called the method a “mismatch of technology.”

After receiving thorough features, benefits, and technical presentations from Snapguard, SpectorSoft’s exclusive distributor in the UK, the analyst said: “It looked like Spector 360 had everything we needed.”

Following additional, stringent internal review, the analyst said Spector 360 was rolled out to 1,000 computers as ‘proof of concept’ and that the operation “proved very successful”.

“During our Spector 360 evaluation we caught an officer leaking information… information he apparently planned to sell,” said the administrator. “So from day one Spector 360 lived up to expectations.”  

The force uses Spector 360 “purely for criminal investigations”, said the administrator. “In an operation, we start off with an overview of system usage. Then, because we’re criminally investigating, we can target a specific person or persons.”

The analyst said the initiative uses a two-level monitoring strategy. With Spector 360 deployed across the entire force, all PCs are monitored identically and without screen snapshots enabled. When a criminal investigation has been initiated, screen snapshots are turned on.

Working with employees

“As a force, we don’t even refer to the software by name,” said the administrator. “I’m quite convinced from talking to IT that PC users will not be able to notice the software at all.”
The force makes it clear that computer activity and internet use is monitored.

“When users boot up, there is a login notice stating that the computer is subject to monitoring. The login is not specific to Spector 360. It does, however, make it clear that there is a risk arising from inappropriate use – including dismissal. Various parts of our ‘acceptable use policy are described… downloading prohibited files and programs, use of properly licensed software programs only… and of course, the all-inclusive statement that the PC is to be used for professional purposes only.”


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