Stellar Technologies offers its Stellar Internet Monitoring product as a way for companies to monitor employee Internet usage and policy violations.Stellar Technologies offers its\u00a0Stellar Internet Monitoring product as a way for companies to monitor employee Internet usage and policy violations. Stellar IM monitors instant messaging, but it is only a part of the entire system. The system also monitors Web surfing and other HTTP activity.Although Stellar IM is not designed to manage IM usage or enforce policies, it does log IM sessions conducted on\u00a0Yahoo,\u00a0AOL\u00a0Instant Messenger and MSN, and lets administrators review and search the archives. If an employee breaches a policy, such as sending or receiving a file via IM session, Stellar IM will send an e-mail alert to an administrator.We set up an account with Stellar's Web-based service. The user portal is attractive and easy to use. The system lets administrators set up an organization account, map users (employees) manually or automatically via IP address. A directory of people is generated based on their logon names used when signing onto their corporate network.The Stellar IM system we tested is optimized for environments where a software application can sit on a server (shared or dedicated) and sniff traffic as it enters and leaves the network. With the Web-based service and Enterprise edition, the sniffing agents can be distributed at several points in a corporate network to capture information about traffic on different network segments. All agents automatically communicate in real time with the Stellar IM\u00a0management\u00a0application via a\u00a0Secure Sockets Layer\u00a0tunnel.The strength of the system is that the management application can be hosted by Stellar, and is accessible to network account owners via the Internet with a standard Web interface. One feature that might interest the business side of your company is the ability to generate a report that shows the amount of corporate resources spent on a particular task (or Web site visited) based on an average hourly wage entered in the calculator.While it has merits, we would not recommend this for a technologically astute employee base. The architecture can be circumvented easily through a VPN connection. The VPN would then carry Internet traffic using any encryption that is not controlled by central IT, and IM sessions (or any Internet activity) could continue without Stellar technology detection, as it cannot see inside of the encrypted tunnel.