More than 2.3 billion gigabytes of internet data is created every single day and the data trail we leave online – through our social media posts, the things we search for, the things we buy, the forms we fill in and the website cookies we download without even realizing it – provides a detailed picture of who we are and what we do.
Are you being watched?
Much of the data collected is stored in different repositories, but third-party tracking on popular sites has increased dramatically, and the use of this data to provide scarily targeted advertising has led to many people having an uneasy feeling their every move is being watched.
But it’s not just advertisers that are watching us, as former CIA employee Edward Snowden revealed, government agencies the world over are collecting data about us every time we go online.
Now most of us having nothing to fear from our governments, we are law abiding citizens after all. But how would you feel if you knew your boss might potentially be able to see what you are doing on your work computer?
Do you have any privacy at work?
Employees have always been watched at work, but while it was once a factory foreman or supervisor, now you can be viewed remotely using CCTV monitoring or keycard tracking when you open various doors.
There are quite a few ways that employers could be digitally monitoring you and your computer usage, but let’s be clear any monitoring should be outlined in a company policy document. That being said here are lots of ways your employer could be monitoring your computer usage. A few of those are listed below:
- Your PC / laptop web activity. All outgoing network traffic flows through a router or firewall to enable network access to off-site websites, but these tools also would allow employers to report on employee internet usage easily. Clearing your browser history and clearing your cache won’t help too much here either.
- Your phone. Even if you are using your phone, if you are connected to your employer’s network they can still trace the sites you visit through the firewall/router.
- The files you access. If you are working from a server, then your employer can see every file you ever accessed or saved and when!
- Your emails. Many companies archive all emails indefinitely, often simply to provide protection in the event of IP disputes with other organizations. However, these archives can also be accessed if your employer has reason to do so.
Is there anything you can do?
Thankfully, there is! While you can’t stop your employer tracking what happens on their email and file servers, you can maintain privacy over the websites you visit by using a VPN – or virtual proxy network.
High-quality VPN software solutions allow you to maintain your privacy by encrypting your data and internet requests before they ever hit the wireless network. The technology works the same if you are at work, at home or using a wireless hotspot at the mall. The data is sent to the VPN server which decrypts the requests before sending them on to the online destination.
The information is then sent back through the same process. Make sure your VPN uses the most secure VPN protocol on the market to ensure the only person that can see your data is you.
If you want to take control of how much of your online activity your employer can see, then your first port of call really should be to start using VPN.