Employers always expect the highest contribution from their subordinates. Some bosses, however, can be over-possessive and continuously monitor their employee’s computers to maintain their productivity.
If you smell something fishy with your system and want to be sure whether the management is monitoring it, then you landed on the right page.
So, without any further ado, let’s begin the quest.
How Do I Know If My Employer is Monitoring My Computer
Presence of unfamiliar apps that keep sending out data in the background is a telltale sign that your employer is monitoring you. Sometimes these applications are so deeply integrated within the system file that you can hardly identify them.
But if you don’t know how to begin with, you’re in luck. I’ve accumulated some strategies for you to confirm whether you’re being tracked.
Here are the methods to tell if your employer is monitoring your computer:
1. Unknown Apps Installed on Your Computer
See, your employee might be tracking your computer with an unidentified third-party program. Most likely, you are left in the dark. So first thing first, check the list of the installed applications on your computer.
To check your installed application list on Windows 10/11, follow the steps below:
- Press Windows + R keys to open the Run command box.
- Type control inside the box and press Enter key.
- Find Programs and click on Uninstall a program.
You’ll see a list of your installed app. Find the one which seems debatable. Google the app and see if that’s a monitoring software.
2. Unusual Background Processes
When the administrator embeds activity tracking software, you cannot find it as an installed app. So, You need to dig further down and search for any suspicious background operations.
Follow these steps to open the background process list on Windows:
- Right-click on the Taskbar at the bottom.
- Click on Task Manager.
- Scroll down and comb through for unknown and questionable processes.
If you see any program other than your apps and Windows system, do a quick google search and learn the details about it.
3. Check Data Usage for Suspicious Activity
Remember a surveillance app will always connect to the internet and send your activity data to the management. So, checking your device’s data usage is an efficient way of finding it out.
Follow the steps below to open data usage settings on your pc to find out the app:
- Press the Win + I keys to go to Settings.
- Click on Network & Internet.
- Click on Data usage to see the total data usage from the last 30 days.
- Observe the data consumption by each application.
If you see an unfamiliar app in the list, you can assume that it is the imposter feeding data to your employer on your device activities.
4. Look Out for Monitoring Programs
It’s easy to find something when you at least know the name of it. But most users are unaware of spyware, especially when nested deeply with the system files. As a result, they are hardly detectable with mere list checking. A thorough sweep is a more effective approach.
You know, the most usual tracking software packages are VNC, RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC, LogMeIn, and GoToMyPC. These programs allow management to follow the desktop activities, currently running applications, change of settings, and access the employee’s data like they’re right in front of their devices.
Having said that, these programs are not developed with spying in mind but tools for IT administrators to manage a flock of computers.To check their presence on your device, follow the first two methods I’ve explained above. Search for them in your C: drive if the preceding methods are a flop.
Follow these steps to search for the monitoring app folders on Windows:
- Press Win + R to open the Run command box.
- Type C:\Program Files in the box and hit enter.
- Search for folders with the name of the programs I’ve mentioned above.
- Repeat the steps for C:\Program Files (x86) folder
These steps will suffice to find out any monitoring software’s existence. I’ll discuss what to do with them if you find one on your pc in the next section.
5. Check the Firewall Settings
Assuming you’ve already executed the previous methods and found nothing but are still reasonably doubtful about being monitored. You need to check the computer’s ports through the firewall settings of your PC if that is the case.
Put on record that when any spy software is installed on your system, a port is always open to transmit data. Ports are virtual data connections through which computers exchange information.
Follow the steps below to check the firewall settings:
- Open the Run command box by pressing Win + R keys.
- Type control inside the box and press Enter key.
- Click on Windows Firewall.
- Click on Allow an app through firewall on the left-hand side of the box.
- Go through the list and see if there is a program named VNC, Remote Control, or anything strange.
Don’t do anything if you find any suspicious software, as it might alarm your employer.
How Does an Employer Observe You Through Your Computer?
With great power comes great responsibility— Can you recall this famous Spider-Man dialog?
Well, Spider-Man saved the day many times with his supernatural powers. In our case, the technological breakthrough came with a price; Privacy breach.
Usually, employers install monitoring applications and sincerely implant surveillance programs to keep track of your work activity during office hours. These programs then transmit data via network ports to the admin’s end. It helps the authority to evaluate your productivity.
Here are some ways that your employer can use to monitor your device activity:
1. Device Management Software
The most common way to track an employee’s actions on a computer is by exploiting device management software packages.
See, these are generally set up on a laptop or PC provided by the employer. If you’re using a device from your employer, search for any software installed named on your company.
If there is, you can be confident that your company is monitoring you through that. These apps deliver great security features. For example, if the device gets stolen or lost, officials can erase sensitive data with access to the device via the program.
2. Employee Tracking Programs
The HR department might trace your movement on the PC by employing tracking programs such as VeriClock, HubStarts, etc.
They can watch over your browsing history, how many applications you have opened or jumped in between, the moment you moved the mouse, total idle time of your computer, etc.
Last but not least, they are capable of eavesdropping on your conversation by exploiting the microphone.
3. Online Business Communication Platform
Business communication platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom can follow your actions inside the app.
If you use a work account for Microsoft Teams, your company can keep an eye on you. Not to mention, they can intercept calls, text messages, meetings, and video chats inside Teams.
Accounts from the workplace let the IT admins activate commands to intercept your motions in MS Teams.
4. Project and Task Management Software
If the laptop from your employer has any project and task management software accommodated, you can confidently assume that your employer knows what you do on that device.
For example, Controlio, Teramind, and DeskTime, to name a few, that let your boss scrutinize projects and tasks to measure progress.
What to Do If Your Employer is Monitoring Your Device?
So what should you do once you realize your company is on the lookout for fruitless exercise by you? Should you switch back to your personal device or remove the supervising programs all the way?
See, each company has its own set of rules and regulations. Presence of a clause regarding monitoring your work hours’ activity is nothing surprising. Ergo, if you disable tracking apps or change the device, it may affect employment adversely, as these actions may trigger an alarm to your employer or the IT admins of your office.
In the worst-case scenario, it might cost your job!
Let me demonstrate some ideal practices in such circumstances.
1. Don’t Store Personal Files on Work Devices
Be certain of files and folder access by your office when they eyeball your work hour trajectory.
So, do not store personal photos, videos, or documents on your professional device. Use cloud services such as Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, etc., if you miss out on a personal computer.
2. Avoid Using Office Devices for Personal Purposes
The sole purpose of your office device is to execute professional workloads. And you should cling to that objective.
It’ll make you look unprofessional if your employer or HR detects personal ventures on the work device. Consequently, it’ll downplay your productivity stats in the employer’s eyes. So it only adds up when everybody involved thinks you took your job for granted.
Take my advice— never search for new Netflix movies or other personal activities on your official device.
3. Don’t Bring Office Devices to Personal Meetings
Laptops nowadays incorporate GPS and are incredibly accurate. If you don’t want your employer to beware of your little trip to the restaurant during office time, just don’t bring it with you.
Your employer can easily track your locations through the monitoring software installed on your official device.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not connected to Wi-Fi. It’ll store the location in other manners and relay them to your employer.
4. Don’t Save Your Passwords on Official Devices
As your employer can access everything on your official device, it’s foolish of you to store your passwords on them. They are vulnerable and can be compromised easily.
So, never store any secret codes on your official device; never use them for social networks.
5. Don’t Connect Personal Devices to Office Network
See, Most corporate internet grids keep network monitoring software installed on them.
For example, SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, Datadog Network Performance Monitor, ManageEngine, OpManager, etc. Employers use these tools to monitor the network activities of the devices connected to the office network.
They can detect which website you’re browsing on your device. So, beware of skimming through Instagram on your device while being connected to the office network.
6. Don’t Search for Jobs on Official Devices or Networks
In drawing things to a close, don’t ever search for job opportunities on your official devices or while on an office network, unless you’re trying to characterize yourself as a traitor.
Searching for a new job on your official device will notify your employer and affect your impression. So, don’t even think about doing it.
What is the Difference Between Monitoring and Spying?
On the contrary, in the present situation, the Work-From-Home is a must-adopted job process for all of us. Employers lawfully have the right to track the work-related activities of the employee during working hours.
You know, they cannot use Microsoft Teams or other means to access your device’s microphone and camera to check your activities outside working hours. But, if they are engaged in such malpractice, it’s considered spying.
Is Employer Monitoring Your Computer Legal?
The company and your employer can gather data on a computer that belongs to you with a court order or a workplace policy that dictates monitoring an employee’s computer within the company’s properties. You are, however, protected from unauthorized searches of personal possessions by the law.
You can see that your employer has an advantage allowed by the law over observing your emails, text or voice messages on the work computer. They can legally scrutinize you for their business secrecy and to maintain productivity.
On top of that, if your employer grants a laptop for your business purpose, you can be sure that it has some surveillance software initiated. That ensures you’re working up to the standard during office hours.
So, if you’re thinking of taking shelter under the law on being monitored, I’m sad to break it down, but your employer can lawfully monitor your computer.
Can My Company See What I Do on my Computer?
Your company can see your device activities and track them if they provide you with that computer. Employers install monitoring apps to track the productivity of the employee. Employers are most likely to install monitoring apps before handing them over to employees.
Can My Employer Track My laptop Location?
Yes, your employer can track your laptop location as they come with a built-in GPS. They help you with navigation, safety, theft recovery etc.
Can My Employer See My Browsing History When I’m Not on Their network?
No, your employer is unable to check out the browsing history when you are not on their network. But if you install their VPN service or any monitoring software, they can access all browsing data.
So, now you know there’s no presumption of privacy when using a company-owned computer.
To sum up, you should never put anything personal when you use a Microsoft or Zoom account from your organization and a device alongside it.
Comment down below if you have any further queries. Have a great productive day!