Ask LH: What Can I Do About Work Monitoring My Internet Usage?

Hey Lifehacker, While I know it’s my employer’s right to put any software they wish on workplace computers, I’d like to know if my PC is being monitored. If I do online banking during my lunch break, I’m worried that my employer might have access to my credentials. Is there any method you could recommend to check if I’m being watched? Thanks, Private Life

Monitoring picture from Shutterstock

Dear PL,

The short, blunt answer: if you want to do something online and be absolutely sure that you’re not being monitored, do it on your smartphone, not on your workplace computer.

It’s quite unlikely that your employer has installed a keylogger to track everything you type. It’s rather more likely that a browsing history of the sites you visit is being logged somewhere — but no-one is likely to check that in detail unless there’s a legal investigation or an alert pops up when you try and visit a manifestly inappropriate site. But either way, there’s no obvious way of finding out if you’re being tracked — beyond the simple expedient of actually checking what the stated workplace policy about internet usage is.

Software programs that claim to track privacy are often actually just ransomware or crap, and unless your machine has administrative rights, you’re not going to be able to install them anyway. And if you’re so concerned about privacy that you think you’d quit if you found out you were being monitored, you might as well just ask outright.

I personally wouldn’t be concerned about logging into a banking site at work, but you can do exactly the same thing on your phone with less risk and no stress. So do that if that’s your concern.


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