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Using agents to monitor the Internet (5)
By Carlo Revelli
CEO of Cybion

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To monitor a person

You should know that each time you express yourselves in public on the Internet, either through a message in a forum (newsgroup or Web-forum), or on a mailing list, your remarks are recorded on one or more file servers in the world. Search engines such as Google index the contents of these messages, which remain accessible for several months, even years. You can even discover a personís profile by automatically analyzing in which forums they participate, and how they express themselves. You can therefore know fairly precisely their centers of interest and certain character traits... Rare are the people who know about this phenomenon. Also, sometimes employers wish to know if their employees play on the forums during the working hours. The principle is certainly debatable, but understandable. But an attack on your private life becomes very easy. Imagine that an employer realizes that an employee, even outside his working hours, intervenes in "sex" forums... Legally, they have the right to do all the searches that they want simply because a forum on the Internet is a public space accessible to all. If you do not want to be observed, there are technical solutions, in particular, by adopting anonymous e-mail addresses.

But the goal here is not to track or to spy on the movements of somebody on the Internet, even if this possibility exists. The Internet can be a formidable tool to follow the interventions or the publications of various experts. To optimize this type of monitoring, initially, it is necessary, using as always the traditional search tools, to identify the newsgroups, mailing lists, or the Web sites, where the person often participates. Once these resources are located, you are be able, as usual, to regularly monitor them with the help of an off-line monitoring agent.

Naturally, there are different types of monitoring, each one having its own particular characteristics, and agents that are more or less adapted to the task. Certain tools even allow you to integrate various search and monitoring activities into a single solution.

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