If you work in an office, you almost certainly use a computer or mobile device to access the internet throughout the day. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably used those devices for non-work related web surfing.
Guess what? Your employer likely already knows. But don’t worry – unless it’s interfering with your work, or your office has an explicit policy against it, you probably don’t have to worry about being disciplined or losing your job. However, you may want to give some thought to your online security.
Why am I being watched at work?
Employers may choose to monitor your internet activity while you are at work for a number of different reasons. First, they likely want to know if you are focused and being productive. No streaming Netflix when you’re supposed to be finishing that quarterly report! All joking aside, even shorter sessions of personal internet browsing each day can add up to costly lost productivity over time.
Your managers are also increasingly concerned about the possibility that an employee may try to compromise the network and steal information from the inside. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, this is a growing problem – more intellectual property attacks directly involve employees, and as many as 80 million insider attacks occur in the United States each year. Additionally, some high-profile data breaches have been committed by outsiders using stolen credentials belonging to an insider. The 2013 cyberattack on Target, in which personal data belonging to 70 million people was stolen, is just one example.
iOS 9.3 warns users of employer monitoring
Many employers have programs in which they assign large numbers of computers and mobile devices to employees. Those who have received a Mac, an iPad or an iPhone through work should be aware companies also do so through Apple’s Device Enrollment Program. This includes Mobile Device Management, which allows those who issue the devices to monitor their use.
Apple recently decided to give users a little more insight into how this works. In the latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 9.3, Apple added a feature that notifies people if their employer is monitoring their activity. While this will give users no power to stop their employers from watching what they are doing, it does inform those who did not realize that this was a common occurrence.
Ideally, if you are on a mobile device at work and you receive a notification that your employer is monitoring you, you should think twice about what you are doing. It’s not just because you may be distracted from work. If you are accessing any sort of personal account on a work network – whether it be your email, social media or a bank account – there is a chance that your information could be compromised.
In fact, we’ve written previously about how many businesses are failing to properly secure and encrypt employee data.
Remember: It doesn’t take much information to commit identity theft. Even something as simple as a compromised email account could quickly lead to breaches in all of your other online accounts.
An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can be an excellent complement to your online security efforts. By monitoring your credit file, Social Security Numbers and public records, our service can alert you to certain activity that could indicate fraud. Don’t go online until you have a way to protect yourself from potential data breaches and identity theft.