General Question

give_seek's avatar

How does internet monitoring work?

Asked by give_seek (1266points) April 23rd, 2011

If I use my company laptop to surf the web at home, can my employer track the sites I’ve visited once I reconnect to the company network?

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12 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

Possibly. It just depends on how they handle monitoring their laptops.

JLeslie's avatar

Probably. At any time they can ask for your lap top if they are not able to monitor while you are online. Assume your employer has access to everything.

give_seek's avatar

Thank you. I will assume they can access everything.

cheebdragon's avatar

A lot of employers will just block access to certain sites, for example, the company my mom works for blocks eBay, they can’t even see eBay links in their email…it’s very annoying when I’m trying to get an oppinion about an item.

gmander's avatar

Always assume that someone is watching your internet activity at work. A company I used to work for is currently suing some ex-employees based on the contents of some of their work emails.

cheebdragon's avatar

@gmander “It wasn’t my porn!”

Tobotron's avatar

I work in IT so I’m sure I can shed some light on this…

First off yes and very easily!

1. All your visited sites will be stored in the history, this can be erased no matter which browser your using however some are easier to remove the full history from than others.

2. There will be cookies on your computer left there by many sites so these will tell a story

3. The browser cache will hold text and mostly images of all the sites you visit most frequently over a set period of time (this makes page loading faster

There are other ways but these are the main easy to access methods, I’m sure if you’ve been given a company laptop then they trust you enought that there not gonna go snooping at your usage but who knows.

Best way around it would be to either erase the history of better yet use a portable copy of a browser you can run directly off of a usb stick, see

http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable

(also bear in mind if your using the laptop over a work connection they can see what your doing even if you erase all the information after, in which case you will need to search using
https://encrypted.google.com/ or https://duckduckgo.com/ however the resulting website you visit will be visible over the network…phew

gmander's avatar

Following on from @Tobotron – There are services that provide encrypted proxies to send all traffic to your browser using HTTPS, so your employer would have to have a real big downer on you to store and decode your network traffic. Unless you are working for the CIA, NSA, I think that would enough to see you ok. I’d still go with not using your employer’s resources for things that have nothing to do with work, unless they have a specific usage policy that allows it. Stick to browsing at home on your own time and resources!

gmander's avatar

@cheebdragon – yes it was! Didn’t you spot me, second from the left, with the knitted hat on?

filmfann's avatar

They can unless you have administrator powers on your laptop.
In my company, they don’t give us that, so they can quickly see what sites are on our “history”.

jerv's avatar

Many people remember to erase the history but forget the cookies and/or empty the cache. It’s not hard to set a browser to deny cookies or clear the cache on exit, but cookies can be handy enough that a blanket denial can be problematic while setting up rules can be tedious.

Nowadays, some browsers offer a special mode that automatically deny cookies, clear the cache, and don’t record the history though. Firefox calls it Private Browsing, Chrome calls it Incognito, and many people call it pR0n mode.

Of course, the simplest solution is to just use your own system at home. Yeah, the company laptop may be better than what you are willing/able to buy for yourself, but it avoids a lot of problems too. Many companies have a certain set of security software that isn’t always the greatest, but you are not allowed to install something more effective. You may want to save stuff that you don’t want your boss to know about, and that is a bit hard when you are using their hard drive. Sure, my laptop may not be the fastest or anything, but it is powerful enough, small enough, has a decent battery life (>6 hours at full-tilt, >8 with wifi off) and it only cost me about a week’s pay. Small price to pay for the headaches it avoids.

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