WEB & TECH / DEC. 07, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Check if Your Browser History is Being Monitored

Did you know that it’s ridiculously easy for your boss/supervisor to monitor your computer usage? A survey conducted in 2011 discovered that more than 50% of employers are monitoring the computer usage of those under their supervision. It’s very likely that your computer is being monitored--and not just to ensure that you make good use of company time!

Want to find out whether or not you are being monitored? It’s a lot easier than you’d expect!

Check for Monitoring Software

Your company provides you with a computer to use for work, meaning they have unrestricted access to it. It’s easy for them to take your computer for a day claiming "it needs maintenance", and when it’s returned to you it will have monitoring software installed.

To look for monitoring software:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to run the Windows Task Manager. Look for suspicious software that you don’t recognize, such as GoToMyPC, VNC, SilentWatch, SpyAgent, Shadow, or Web Sleuth. You’ll find these programs under the "Processes" tab.
  • Navigate through your "Start Menu" to see if any of the above programs have been installed. It’s easy to hide the programs, but not all IT people will take care to hide them. If you see any of these programs, it’s very possible that you are being monitored.
  • Check your Windows Firewall. There will be certain "Exceptions", and some of those exceptions may be monitoring software.
  • Navigate to your "Search" option for Windows, and type in "MSCONFIG". This will open the System Configuration program, and you can search through "Startup" and "Services" to find any monitoring programs.

Note: If you don’t recognize the name of a program, look it up online. You may find that it is monitoring software that has been installed without your knowing.

For Mac Computers:  Open "Finder" and check through the applications that are running. You can launch the "Activity Monitor" in the Utilities tab, and search the processes there.

What About Network Monitoring?

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t need to install software on your computer to monitor what you’re doing on the internet. You are accessing the internet via the company network, so all the company has to do is monitor the network use. There is no way to know if your company is doing this, but it’s highly likely that they are. However, at least it means that they aren’t monitoring your computer specifically.

How to Guarantee Privacy

If you find monitoring software, DO NOT uninstall it. It’s your employer’s right to install this software on the computer, which belongs to them.

For privacy, here are a few options:

  • To send unmonitored emails, use a webmail account--such as Email Server or Secure Server. Emails sent from these accounts will be encrypted and inaccessible.
  • You can also pay for an anonymizer, a service that will create your own Virtual Private Network that blocks all outside access. Your employer will see that you are accessing the network, but will be unable to tap into it.
  • Use your smartphone if you need to send emails at work. As long as you stay OFF the company network and use your personal 4G/data plan, they have no access to it.

If you don’t NEED privacy, there’s really no reason to be bothered by the monitoring. Your employer is only keeping an eye on your computer usage to ensure that they’re getting the most from you, and you should have nothing to hide!

 

Image Source: iStock

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