It probably comes as no surprise that employers often track what they’re employees are up to. However, the depths to which some companies go may shock you.
From monitoring all internet activity and scanning emails to even putting microphones on employee ID badges, it seems there’s no such thing as privacy in the work environment—even if you work from home.
How can you detect workplace spying? And what steps can you take to safeguard your privacy? Dive into everything you need to know below.
Spying on employees has been around since the dawn of time. Henry Ford famously would pace around the factory floor with a stopwatch to track employee efficiency.
He even hired private investigators to ensure nothing in workers’ personal lives would cause performance issues.
As intrusive as that sounds, however, things only got really bad in the last decade. Companies of all sizes and industries have taken to a wide array of spying tactics on their employees to increase efficiency.
The new twist, however, is automation. Thanks to AI and machine learning tools, there’s no need for a dedicated office snoop anymore. Now software can scan thousands of emails, record keystrokes, and also pick up on your conversations and report summarized findings back to administrators.
Unless you are in a position of power, it may not be easy to prevent workplace spying. Executives will argue that regardless of their privacy implications, it can boost efficiency.
Nonetheless, there are several steps you can take to increase your personal privacy. Before you do anything, however, take a look at your contract and employee guidelines. You don’t want to inadvertently do anything that violates these documents and puts your job at risk.
After this, begin by checking your IP address. You may be thinking, “what is my IP?” Your IP address is the unique identifier associated with your devices. It’s an essential component of how your device gets online. Your IP address reveals a lot of personal information about you.
It not only shows your relative location but also can be used to track your internet activity. The simplest way to keep yourself private online, both at work and at home, is thus using a VPN. A VPN or virtual private network conceals your real IP address and encrypts your internet connection, enhancing your workplace privacy.
From here, you can take additional steps to further prevent workplace spying from happening to you. Start with your internet browser.
In addition to using Private browsing, you should consider using a privacy-centric browser like Brave or Epic Browser. These internet browsers block trackers and other spying tools making them effective for both professional and personal use.
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This may be a little bit trickier. While VPNs and privacy-centric browsers can help you bypass network monitoring and restrictions, software tools may have embedded features limiting how much you can improve your privacy.
With any company-wide tools, take some time to research it. Check out the terms of service agreement and do a little research on Google. This will help you identify where it may be tracking you or not.
With some software, you may be able to disable logging features, although others may require admin-level access. This is where it can get tricky.
If it seems like a minor intrusion like sending system data to your employees, you might want just to let that go. But if it’s logging all your keystrokes anytime you have the app open, then that’s another story.
If you’re not in a position to ask for policy changes, you need to find ways to isolate the effects of this spying. For example, you can use the specific device for work only or set up a separate internal environment for only these types of tools.
Either way, you should only have these types of apps open when you need them. Otherwise, log off and close the app anytime it’s not in use.
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Unfortunately, it looks like workplace spying is only here to stay. Companies have found too many productivity benefits to abandon the practice. However, that doesn’t mean you can defend yourself.
Begin with strong network securities like VPNs and privacy-centric browsers. Then identify the privacy risk and isolate. Finally, if you can, advocate for shifting away from these technologies at your workplace because privacy is a fundamental right, regardless of whether you’re at work or not.
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