You think you’re at work hanging out on Facebook without anyone noticing, but the truth is that you’re probably wrong. A recent survey found that half of all employers monitor their workers and how they use their computers. This means that they know what websites you’re visiting, the games you’re playing, who you’re emailing, all of that.
There are two ways that they can monitor you: 1) software on your machine, and 2) the traffic on their network. Most companies will tell you if you’re being monitored, but it may be in the fine print of your contract.
The software that monitors you will send an activity log to the IT department. You can try to find this software by looking into the system tray on your computer as well as the start-up folder. If you see programs that you’ve never seen before, you should google them to find out what they do. The task bar on your windows program also shows you all programs that are running. You can check this at the bottom right hand side of your screen.
Finally, you can check any exceptions on your firewall to determine if anything has been allowed to creep into your machine and gather data to be delivered someplace else. If you have a geeky friend at work, ask them to take a look for you.
Experts say that if you find monitoring software on your computer, you should NOT try to remove it. First, it makes you look guilty, and secondly, your company has a right to put it on their machine. In addition to software installations, companies can watch you on the network. You can’t do much of anything about that.
Our recommendation? Consider having an iPad or second laptop that belongs to you that is not being watched by your company. You can also do your personal stuff when you get home. For work, you can buy small keyboards that even let you type on your iPhone if you want, allowing you to avoid corporate scrutiny. You can also get Anonymizers, which are services that allow you to create a virtual private network (VPN) that keeps your traffic from appearing on the corporate network. The problem is that a lot of companies don’t allow you to use them.
Simple advice? Don’t do anything crazy on your work computer, they are probably watching you right now.