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How to tell if your company is monitoring you at work

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:34PM EST

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Businesses are typically well within their rights to install software that monitors company-owned computers and reports back to IT with details on exactly what employees are doing on the company’s dime. There’s nothing wrong with spending a few minutes here and there checking out the latest status updates from your Facebook (FB) friends or the latest tech news here on BGR, but some employers might not agree. Of course the safest play is to keep personal browsing and chats on your smartphone, but there are also several ways to determine whether or not your computer is being monitored.

Heading over to your IT department and asking if your computer is bugged might raise a few eyebrows, so Yahoo News assembled a few more subtle tactics to help you find out if your company is spying on you.

For Windows users, digging through your start up and programs folders for entries like VNC, Shadow, Web Sleuth and Silent Watch is a good first step for catching lazy IT workers who didn’t bother covering their tracks.

If that doesn’t work out, the next step is to snoop around in your Windows Firewall settings to see if permissions have been granted to any suspicious programs. Windows Task Manager is a big help as well, but be prepared to search Google (GOOG) — or Bing, or Yahoo (YHOO) — for every process you don’t recognize, and there will likely be dozens.

If you’re on a Mac, Yahoo News says the best thing to do is check out Activity Monitor and search the Web for unknown process names to see if they might be spying software.

Remember though: Depending on the solution your company is using to watch you, your IT department may be able to figure out that you’re hunting for monitoring software pretty easily. Search the Web for application and process names on your phone if possible, and definitely don’t try to delete any suspicious software you find. Instead, use that knowledge to your benefit by performing personal tasks on your phone. Or, Yahoo News notes that a VPN service will allow you to surf the Web securely, thus hiding your traffic from the corporate network.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.