I recently overheard someone telling another person to clear her browser history to prevent her company from seeing the websites she visited on her work computer. (Spoiler Alert: It Doesn’t Work) This made me realize that you may not be aware what your company knows about your work habits:
- Your company tracks what websites you visit.
This technology not only tracks the websites you visit, but categorizes them for easy reporting. Someone I knew told me that an employee denied doing online shopping during work hours, until he told her the stores she buys shoes from, her shoe size, and the colors of shoes she bought. Needless to say, this data tells companies a lot about what you do at work.
- Your company has copies of all your emails.
It doesn’t matter if you delete the email from your inbox; There are copies of all your emails (even your deleted ones) on back-office systems. The amount of time they are kept depends on each company, but could go back years and years. So I recommend that you do not use company email for personal use; you risk embarrassing yourself with your family’s latest drama or worse.
- Your company knows what phone calls you make and receive.
There are systems that log every call you make, every call you receive, and has a copy of every voicemail message. Deleting the voicemail message does not guarantee that there’s not a copy on some back-office server somewhere. Your company knows who you called, who called you, how long you talked, and the cost of each call. Ditto for your corporate cell phone.
- Your company knows your corporate cell phone habits.
If you think you can avoid being tracked by browsing on your corporate phone, WRONG. The same systems that track your computer browsing history also tracks your wireless phone browsing history.
- Your company knows what apps you use on your corporate cell phone.
Your company can track what apps you have installed, what you are actively using, and how much you’re using them. If your management is curious how many people are playing Pokemon GO at work, the information is available.
- Your company knows where you are at all times.
Through the same technology that tracks app usage, it can track where you are at any given time. IT can set this up on a corporate phone so that you have no option to block this.
- Your company can track your behavior even when you’re not in the office.
Through technology that manages your corporate hardware and software, it will track your IT behavior, irregardless of where you work, whether it be in an office, at home, or at a customer location. The systems track all corporate devices no matter what. So don’t use your corporate computer at home to do personal business; IT is tracking this behavior, too.
Companies will comply with all domestic and international privacy laws, but most companies have IT Policy documents that all employees sign, which will acknowledge your IT behavior at work is not private. Companies have a legal right to most of the information I noted above. My advice is, limit your personal activity on ANY corporate device and while using ANY corporate or company’s guest network. Or in the spirit of Despicable Me, follow Gru’s Third Rule “You will not cry, or whine, or laugh, or giggle, or sneeze, or burp, or fart. So, no, no annoying sounds…” at work!