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How to Hide Your Internet Activities From Your Employer

Hide your browsing from employer

The Internet has become a public place to such an extent that not only hackers or the government snoop on your internet activity, but your employers might also do so. Companies might monitor internet activity without you even knowing, and the few free browsing minutes you have at work might not be as private as you thought. 

While all your online browsing might be monitored in the workplace, there’s a way to hide your internet activities from your employer. By using a powerful VPN at work and implementing a few sound habits, you can keep your Internet activities private and far from your employer’s eyes. Here’s everything you need to know.

The best way to hide all your browsing and internet activity from an employer is to use a VPN. Strong VPN encryption will prevent employers from monitoring which websites you visit during work hours and keep your browsing private.

Can Employers See Your Internet Browsing History?

Your employer can see your browsing history through several different methods. So, you should always presume that they routinely check your online activities. As long as you’re using a company device or connecting to your employer’s network, erasing your history or browsing incognito doesn’t make any difference.

But what if you’re working remotely? Can employers see your Internet history at home? The answer, again, is yes. If you’re using a company-issued device to access the Internet, your employer can monitor your Internet usage. While this action falls somewhere in the gray area regarding its legality, employers can get away with it most of the time.

Can My Employer See What Websites I Visit On My Phone?

Yes, if you’re using the company’s network to access the Internet, they can see the traffic that comes from your phone. Moreover, if you’re using a company phone, the device might have some software installed that could monitor your activity even when you’re not connected to the corporate network.

With that in mind, if you want to stop your employer from tracking your phone, you should use your mobile data to connect to the Internet and use a personal device. That way, your employer will have no insight into your personal phone browsing history, even if you’re at the office.

Why Employers Monitor their Employees’ Internet Activity

Most employers monitor their employees’ Internet activity for a reason. One logical explanation of why tracking is implemented is due to compliance with security regulations. These regulations force companies (mostly financial institutions or government-related) to monitor all their internal networks to prevent fraud and hacking attacks and have the possibility to track down the problem if it occurs.

Another reason that might be outdated in today’s world, but still exists is the lack of trust of their employees. Companies try to measure employee productivity by monitoring software and Internet usage as well as active and idle times. They track the time spent online, the websites visited, or files downloaded, which does not feel secure or private in any case.

How Employers Can Monitor Employee Internet Activity

There are a few ways that employees’ internet activity can be monitored, and one of them is acting as a man in the middle. The employer’s network can be set up in such a way that it routes all internet traffic via a rogue proxy that can intercept any traffic and see its content.

The router or a proxy server could be inside a company building or in the data center. And usually, a network administrator who can access the server either remotely or physically can see all internet traffic on the employer’s network. 

Internet connection without VPN

Without a VPN, your employer can act as a man-in-the-middle and see all internet activity on the network. All internet activity can be seen on the man-in-the-middle server that the employer owns. They can see anything they want, the extent of which we’ll get to in the next section.

Sometimes, companies that do not have an IT department or resources dedicated to monitoring their employees make contracts with their ISP. In that case, the Internet Service Provider plays the role of a man-in-the-middle and regularly reports on the online activities made from the company’s network. And, as you might be aware, your ISP can see it all.

What Can Your Employer Monitor?

Your employer can monitor practically everything you do online. Here’s a thorough rundown of all of the information your employer can see:

  • Emails 
  • Browsing history
  • Instant Messages (Even on platforms like Slack, Skype, and others)
  • Downloaded files
  • Every accessed file
  • Your camera

How to Hide Browsing History From Employer

The best way to hide your browsing history from your employer is to use a VPN, along with a couple of other tools. But, starting with the VPN part of the equation, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to hide your online activities from your employer:

  1. Download the VPN app of your choice.
  2. Install the service and log in.
  3. Connect to a VPN server.
  4. Enjoy using the Internet in complete privacy!

When using a VPN, all your browsing data is encrypted, and the only thing that the employer can see is just the VPN server’s IP address and gibberish impossible-to-crack data. Moreover, if you’re using a VPN service with server obfuscation features, they won’t be able to see even the IP address.

Internet connection with VPN

With a VPN, your employer can’t see what is inside the strongly encrypted VPN tunnel. One more note, while a VPN hides your online activities from your employer in real-time, you also must take into consideration that your browsing history can be accessible later on your device.

How to Bypass Administrator Rights Requirements when Installing a VPN

Installing VPN software, especially on the work computer, sometimes requires administrator rights that you might not have. Luckily, there is an easy way to hide your internet activities with a VPN Chrome extension (works with Firefox too!). It is specifically designed to work only on browsers and does not require admin privileges when adding it.

How to Hide Your Internet Activity From Employer

A VPN keeps your internet activity private from your employer and hides the browsing history only on the router or the server. That said, you should know that browsing history files are kept locally on your device unless you regularly delete your history and cookies. The VPN does not hide your history from the employer. So if your employer is really interested, they could ask you to open up your device’s history.

The easiest way to keep your browser history hidden from your employer is to combine a VPN and an incognito window in your browser. An incognito window will immediately delete all browsing history files and cookies once closed. Incognito window exists on any browser and is perfect for keeping your browsing history clean all the time.

Does a Work VPN Expose My Home Network When Working Remotely?

Using a work VPN means all your traffic from that device is decrypted at the company’s servers. In other words, all websites you visit and all of your online activities can be seen by your employer. However, your employer can’t monitor your home network, only the device you use the work VPN on. 

All other browsing information on your personal devices is not exposed to your employer. Nevertheless, your ISP can still see all information not encrypted by the work VPN. So, disconnecting from the work VPN would route your internet traffic via your regular ISP again. Then, instead of an employer, your ISP knows all your internet activities, and your privacy is lost altogether.

Considering this, you might also be wondering if your employer has remote access to your personal computer. In short, yes. They can remotely install or erase software. They can also monitor your activity through the data you input while typing. This is most often the case with company-issued workstations. But what’s worrying is that it can also occur on employee-owned devices.

Best VPNs To Use To Stay Private From Your Employer

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the leaders in the VPN market, offering one of the most impressive all-around services to their clients. For starters, NordVPN provides lightning-fast speeds on all of its 5,500+ servers in 59 countries worldwide. Its servers run on the very private and secure NordLynx protocol, one of the most impressive tunneling protocols in the industry.

It has ad-blocking and malware protection in the form of the Threat Protection feature. It prevents you from visiting infected pages and protects you from tracking online. NordVPN supports a long list of advanced features, headlined by tools such as split tunneling, a kill switch, server obfuscation, and Double VPN protection. The latter works by changing your traffic twice, adding an extra layer of privacy between you and your employer.

Aside from its impressive privacy and security pedigree, NordVPN is also a very capable service that delivers an outstanding user experience. It can unblock Netflix and other streaming services, which makes it a great choice if you like watching shows online. It’s also an excellent pick for torrenting.

NordVPN is available on all platforms (including browser extensions) and has a strict no-log policy. Its price plans are very affordable considering the quality of service you’re getting. Plus, you can count on a 30-day money-back guarantee for every plan.

Pros:
  • Thousands of lightning-fast servers
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

Surfshark is one of the most user-friendly services on the market. It provides you with a tremendous network of over 3,200 servers across 99 countries. All of its servers are RAM-based, and every server comes with private DNS

Surfshark also has a convenient Camouflage Mode feature. This tool masks the fact that you’re connected to a VPN server and makes it a great choice for every privacy-conscious online user who wants to use the Internet freely without their employer finding out about it, keeping their personal browsing fully secure.

This VPN service is also very capable of bypassing censorship and accessing nearly every site out there. This is thanks to a very convenient Bypasser feature. It allows you to bypass VPN blocks anywhere in the world. 

Moreover, Surfshark offers a very flexible VPN client for all major platforms and allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices. The service supports the WireGuard protocol on all of its servers and secures your connection with a kill switch. It’s a great choice if you care about keeping your personal browsing history private at all times.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Allows split-tunneling and has multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and strong security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN is one of the most promising VPNs in the business. Boasting 750 servers all across the world as well as military-grade encryption, Atlas VPN will keep you fully invisible from not only your ISP but everyone else online. It’s a great VPN choice if you want to hide your browsing history from your employer and just surf the Net in peace, whether you’re connected to the company network or not.

Like its top competitors, Atlas VPN includes a number of advanced and very convenient features. For example, there’s a SafeSwap feature, which allows you to reach the Internet from several IP addresses at the same time. You can also use a similar feature called MultiHop+, which enables you to simultaneously use multiple rotating VPN locations.

It supports the excellent WireGuard protocol, split tunneling, a network kill switch, and private DNS on its servers. Atlas VPN also offers incredibly low prices and 24/7 customer support to help you with any and all of your questions. Try it now with a full 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Limited Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

Can My Employer Monitor Me Even If I’m Using a VPN or Incognito Mode?

When you’re connected to a secure VPN server and use Incognito Mode, your employer won’t be able to see any of your online activities, even if you’re using their network. On the other hand, if you’re just using Incognito Mode without a VPN, your employer can still monitor what you do on the office network.

If you’re thinking about how your employer can see what you browse in Incognito Mode, the answer is simple. This feature doesn’t actually hide your IP address and the activities that come from it. It only deletes the search history from your local device.

Final Thoughts

To keep your online browsing at work private and hide internet activity from your employer, you should use a VPN that has unbreakable encryption and strong privacy features. Additionally, combining it together with an incognito window that deletes your browsing history on your device is the best way to keep your online activities hidden from your employer.

We also want to highlight the importance of practicing good cyber hygiene on your work computer. More specifically, you shouldn’t keep any personal information on your work device and keep your home computer and work computer data separately. This includes any personal photos and videos, questionable and inappropriate content, or personal passwords. You shouldn’t even keep any confidential company files unless they are stored properly.

To sum it up, the three VPNs we’ve listed above are capable of hiding the websites you visit and files you download from your employer and making it impossible for them to see the contents of your internet traffic. Still, our top recommendation is NordVPN. It is the most privacy-friendly VPN in the industry and comes with tons of advanced features.

FAQs on Hiding Your Internet Activities From Your Employer

Can my employer see my browser history when I’m not on their network?

Your employer can see your browsing history if you’re using a company device, even if you’re not connected to their network. That way, your company can see what websites you visit at home, even if you’re connected to your home network. So, it’s best to avoid using company devices at home. Investing in a great Virtual Private Network (VPN) service can also help you secure your browsing activities.

Can my employer track my location through a VPN?

If you use the company’s in-house VPN service, they can see your location without any issues. In contrast, if you’re using a commercial VPN, your employer won’t be able to see your real location. That is unless they have access to GPS data on the device you’re using, which would allow them to pinpoint your location.

Can my employer track my IP address?

When you’re connected to your work network, your employers can track your IP address and the activity from it. The same goes if you’re using a work device on a home network. However, if you’re using a personal computer and connecting to your home network, your employer has no right to track your IP address.

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9 Comments
Concerned Remote Guy
Mar 28, 2020
at 3:17 pm
Reply

For remote employees that have VPN already installed by company, does this still apply? Any alterations to your thesis in that case? Thanks!

CyberWaters
administrator
Mar 29, 2020
at 5:34 am
Reply

Hi there Remote Guy, great question! The solution is easy – disconnect from your company’s VPN. If you do that and use your remote local network then whatever you browse would not be router via company’s servers but through your regular ISP instead. In this case it might not be very convenient to connect/disconnect all the time, but since you work remotely, maybe you could use a completely different device? Just to note, the company does not have access to your remote local network even with VPN connected, meaning your internet activities on other devices that are not connected via VPN are not routed via employer’s network. Thanks again for the great question, I hope that helps!

PCN
May 01, 2020
at 1:50 pm
Reply

Hi, what about when you use your own PC to connect to the work system remotely? I have one of the VPNs you recommend on my PC 🙂 . how does that work? Thank you!

CyberWaters
administrator
May 06, 2020
at 4:38 am
Reply

Hi there! Interesting situation. Well in this case your employer will see that you are connecting from a VPN service to your work environment. Everything you do in your work system (assuming you are logged in?) will be seen by your employer anyways. This work system is owned by your employer so it can see that you logged in to the system from a VPN server’s IP.
But, if you use your own PC with VPN from your home WiFi – your employer will not see anything.
If you use your own PC with VPN on the employers WiFi – your employer will only see the connections to a VPN server.
It’s hard to say more when I don’t know the full set up.
I hope that helped to understand at least a bit!

PCN
May 07, 2020
at 12:15 pm
Reply

Thank you for the response. Reassuring 🙂

Anonymus
Aug 22, 2020
at 1:43 pm
Reply

Hi. How about if im disconnected to my VPN server (from my employer) and using th eincognit way at the same time and finish it I use windows+R and ipconfig /flushdns. Does it serves? Thanks

CyberWaters
administrator
Aug 25, 2020
at 10:48 am
Reply

Hi there! Unfortunately, using Incognito window or flushing DNS is not enough to hide your browsing activities. The Incognito window and /flushdns command only will hide your local browsing and history. This is because your DNS queries are done at the moment you are browsing , so your employer can still see where you connect. Also, after DNS query is done, you start to connect to the actual website, which can be clearly visible on the employers system. For the best privacy it’s best to combine an incognito window and a VPN.

Audrey
Mar 18, 2022
at 5:55 am
Reply

I have a VPN through LifeLock which is installed on my personal cell and laptop.1- Would my employer be able to know if I am using my own devices? 2-Is there a way that I do not have to use their router/ internet and just use my home internet? Someone mentioned a “hotspot “ but I know nothing about it.. ANY assistance would be most appreciated….

CyberWaters
administrator
Apr 08, 2022
at 4:22 am
Reply

Hi Audrey. We are not familiar with LifeLock. But Indeed creating a HotSpot (sharing the internet via another device) would probably hide the fact that you use your own devices. Also, instead of using “their internet”, you can try using your Mobile Internet – again sharing that mobile internet via HotSpot.

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