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Grow Your Business Technology

7 Ways Your Work Technology Is Betraying Your Privacy

7 Ways Your Work Technology Is Betraying Your Privacy
Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered if your boss can see what you're doing on your computer all day? The answer is "yes" — and you might be surprised by what your supervisors can see.

Your work computer is not as private as you think it is, and with the help of technology like firewalls and monitoring software, your boss can see every file you access, every website you browse and even every word you type. Although most companies access this information only if they already suspect you're up to no good, it's safe to assume you're being monitored on some level.

And if you think you can get away with goofing off at work by deleting some files and clearing your browser history, think again. Here are seven ways your work computer is betraying you:

1. Your emails aren't as private as you think.

"Many companies archive all emails indefinitely. Employees may not realize this. Organizations might search their mail archive for various reasons, such as discovery related to a court case. A government agency may conduct searches pursuant to a public records request by a newspaper. Emails unrelated to the request might come up in the search, including personal emails." – Beth McIntire, IT manager, North Carolina State Bar [15 Ways to Make Your Emails More Professional ]

2. Clearing your browser history won't help you.

"Once an employee decides to access a site outside of the local network, the packets their computer sends out to access websites pass through the company firewall. The Web address these packets are sent to and received from are recorded in a firewall security log. The information contained in these logs not only shows the website address, but how long the website was accessed. If an employee chooses to spend a great deal of time on Facebook, for example, the company can easily see how many times a day their computer is sending and receiving packets from Facebook and for how long." – Jay Watt, IT expert and startup consultant, Energy In The Bank 

3. Your phone isn't private, either.

"Most companies have an Internet filter of some kind installed. These devices, such as Barracuda Web Filter appliance, can track all Internet activity from every computer [or] device on the network, including your mobile phone that you connect to the office Wi-Fi." – Peter Davis, owner, 311 Media

4. Remote workers, beware: Your location is visible.

"Geolocation is a capability that many employees may not realize is available on software that their company uses. It tracks a computer's location using IP addresses. A key use for geolocation is a simple one — to help locate and recover lost or stolen laptops. However, one use that may go unnoticed is that geolocation can help identify rogue behavior as well, so employees should keep that in mind to avoid any trouble." – Steve Luong, information management expert, CommVault

5. Employers can track every word you type.

"Many companies also install key-logging software on computers, which records every keystroke an employee makes throughout the day. Typically, this data isn't thoroughly reviewed unless a manager notices a problem, such as consistently late work or suspicious behavior." – Cameron Graham, managing editor, TechnologyAdvice

6.  You're not the only one who can see your screen.

"Employers can run white hacker programs — or some may call them spy programs — that monitor employee activity. For example, one such program takes a screenshot of any open Excel or Word doc every 15 seconds, then uploads the photo to a centralized portal for employer access. So, you may think that the cover letter you quickly typed up to apply for another job, then deleted, is gone for good, but your computer may be betraying you!" – Bob Herman, co-founder and president, IT Tropolis

7. Every file you access is visible.

"Working from a server? We know every file you've pulled and put on the server, and when. There are many more ways, but clients always ask me, 'Can my boss see what I'm doing?' and the answer is always 'yes.'" – Justin Esgar, CEO and president, Virtua Computers