Nothing you do online is ever truly private unless you’re connected through a VPN. This is especially true in the workplace. Workplaces profit from worker productivity, and in order to keep you productive, your employer is going to keep a close eye on everything you do at work. Even if you don’t feel like a ten minute scroll through Facebook or a two minute interruption for a great recipe in a Tasty video is going to disrupt your flow, your boss may feel differently. And he or she knows exactly when you’re doing it.
Your Employer Can Monitor Activity
Your employer is in charge of your work network. They can see everything you do when you’re connected. Since they are responsible for maintaining your connection (and your equipment if you don’t use a personal computer at work), everything you do when you’re connected to their network is directly within their line of sight.
This applies to the way you interact with anything within your work network, even if you’re remotely working from home on your own personal network. Anything you type or search through a company resource or on a company connection becomes that company’s business. Perhaps it’s wise to think twice before checking your personal email on work WiFi – even if you’re on your lunch break.
Some of Your Tools Are Designed to Spy on You
Many tools designed for workplace collaboration are designed specifically to help employers spy on their employees. Although the spying aspect is monitored under the guise of being a productivity and oversight feature, your employer can still see everything you do.
Gsuite’s tools are the most nefarious example. Google’s office tools will allow an employer to read an email while it’s still being typed. If you’re angry with your boss and the first draft of the email you’re about to send is a bit heavy handed, your second draft won’t matter. It’s possible that your boss already saw everything you had to say before you had a minute to cool down.
Is This Legal? Is This Moral?
Moral, perhaps not. Legal, absolutely. Since the resources (including the network) provided by the company are the property of the company, they have every right to spy. Just like you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in someone else’s living room, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy on your workplace network. If you demand privacy, you’re going to have to achieve in on your own terms.
What You Can Do
Utilizing a VPN like TorGuard and a secure encrypted mail service like PrivateMail will assure that no one other than yourself and your intended recipients will be made privy to your conversations. You may not be able to complete all work tasks through a VPN, but you can maintain some semblance of privacy in the workplace by utilizing secure, encrypted, private services where possible.