Shhhh… the IP Addresses Have Ears

image Well it had to happen. Social network analysis in organisations has long been promoted as a way of spotting opportunities for improving collaboration and knowledge flows. Network mapping software pioneer Valdis Krebs has just celebrated his twentieth birthday in the business.

Now, via Bill Ives, a nasty twist on social (or organisational) network analysis that brings us to the dark side of the force.

This week a company called eTelemetry is introducing a software application that does “Enterprise Behavior Analysis” (EBA), at the Las Vegas Interop exposition. It works by mapping individual IP addresses to users, and monitors and maps communications between employees by email, instant messaging and internet (intranet?). This far, we are on familiar social network analysis territory (except for concerns you might have about privacy and how the data might be used by paranoid and ill-informed executives… but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself).

Now let it not be said that for the eTelemetry gauchos the glass is half empty. It is most definitely half full, but not of nourishing life giving stuff. If anyone has doubted Michael Moore’s declamations about a pervasive climate of fear in the United States, then look at the primary intended use for this software touted by its makers: “the technology in Metron EBA can help managers reengineer business processes or spot anomalous employee behavior that may represent a threat to the company.” To be fair, ETelemetry also touts the normal SNA benefits of such analysis – spotting opportunities for improving connectivity in human networks, or spotting dependencies on particular individuals for information flows – but what about privacy and how the data might be interpreted by paranoid and ill-informed executives?

Indeed the whole thrust of eTelemetry’s product suite is focused on security – internal security. Its Metron application is designed to track down loafers and “network miscreants” without them being aware that they are being watched. Amongst their selling points they tout productivity gains by showing the impact on slacking when managers are present or absent, and providing accurate data that will improve the effectiveness of “external organisation network analysis consultants”.

Note to self: stay far away from these folks, get a hold of their client list and decide whether I should (a) stay far far away from any of them or (b) stand outside their gates and hand out free IP spoofing software to their employees. Be warned. Knowledge managers can be evil too.

BTW, Kim has quite a different post on surveillance today.

3 Comments so far


Yes, companies do own their data streams and they can mine them as long as they don’t break the law.

I had a refreshing client meeting this week.  They said they looked at many “network mining” products like Visible Path, Tacit Mail, Spoke, etc.  They told me “I don’t want some system to guess, I’ll tell you my contacts” Their employees want to manage/monitor/mold their own networks.

So maybe the pendulum is starting to swing back?

Posted on May 25, 2007 at 08:19 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Jack Vinson blogs on this topic at

“The thing is that SNA is an analysis of the flow of trust across the network.  This kind of analysis, if abused, is going to kill off the flow of trust.”

Absolutely. I’m so glad that Valdis reminded us that not all the world is evil.

Posted on May 26, 2007 at 10:33 AM | Comment permalink


20th business birthday.

Very cool.



Posted on May 27, 2007 at 08:04 PM | Comment permalink

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