Nowadays the Internet has become such a public place where not only hackers or governments snoop on your internet activity but employers as well. Companies might monitor internet activity without you even knowing and free browsing minute you have at work might not feel that private anymore. While all your online browsing might be monitored in the workplace, there is a way to hide your internet activities from your employer, but first, let’s take a look at how and what your employer might track.
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 in order to prevent fraud, hacks and to have a 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Another reason that might be outdated in today’s world, but still exists is the lack of trust of their employees.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 the contents of it. 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.
All internet activity can be seen on the man-in-the-middle server that employer owns – times when you made a connection to what the website, did you stream any videos, played a game or downloaded a file – everything is seen.
Sometimes when companies that do not have an IT department or resources dedicated to monitoring their employees have made contracts with their Internet Service Provider that plays a role of a man-in-the-middle and regularly reports on the online activities made from the company’s network. An ISP can see it all – IP addresses, connection times, websites or files downloaded and other data.
It feels unsafe to know that your personal data can be tracked and be leveraged by your employer, but there is a way to hide your online browsing at the workplace.
How to hide internet activity from employer
The employer can monitor your internet activity and see which websites you visit, but a good solution to hide your internet activity is using a VPN. When using a VPN all your internet activity 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. A VPN that uses the strongest AES-256 bit encryption is NordVPN. It does not keep any logs or personally identifiable information as well as protects you from anyone who tries to snoop on your traffic.
Here’s how it works: with a VPN all your internet traffic is routed via an encrypted VPN tunnel to the VPN server. This way masking all the websites you visit or files you download from your employer and ISP. Trying to intercept using the man-in-the-middle method and see inside the encrypted VPN tunnel the employer can only see gibberish data making it impossible to know where you are trying to connect online. Instead of showing your connection to specific websites it only shows the connection to the VPN server’s IP address.
A VPN hides your online activities from your employer in real-time but you also must take into consideration that your browsing history can be accessible later on your device.
How to bypass administrator rights requirement when installing
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 any admin privileges when adding it.
How to hide your browsing history from your employer
A VPN keeps your internet activity private from your employer and hides the browsing history only on the router or the server. You should know that browsing history files are kept locally on your device and the employer, if really interested, could ask you to show it.
The easiest way to keep the browsing history hidden from your employer is to combine a VPN and incognito window. 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
Many companies use a VPN to safely access their resources remotely. What to do if you are already using a VPN installed by your own employer?
Using a work VPN means that all your traffic from that device is decrypted at the company’s servers and all websites you visit can be seen by your employer. However, your local home network can not be accessed by the employer. All other browsing information on other devices is not exposed, but then your ISP can see it.
Simply disconnecting from work VPN would route your internet traffic via your regular ISP again. But then instead of an employer, your ISP knows all your browsing information and the privacy is lost.
Best VPNs that would keep things private from your employer
NordVPN is one of the leaders in the VPN market with lightning fast speeds on all of its 5600+ servers in 60+ countries. It has an ad-blocking and malware-protection feature called CyberSec that prevents you from visiting infected pages and protects from tracking online.
It has a strong next-generation unbreakable encryption with double VPN servers and supports P2P/torrenting traffic with fast speeds when downloading. It also unblocks Netflix and other streaming services which makes it a great choice if you like watching shows online.
NordVPN is available on all platforms (including browser extensions) and has a strict absolutely-no-log policy. It is the most well-rounded VPN on the market offering good deals and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfhsark is one of the most user-friendly and very affordable VPNs. It does not keep any logs and offers more than 1700 servers in 63 countries.
All apps use strong AES-256 encryption so your employer or ISP can not see what you do online. The service also has CleanWeb technology that can block intrusive ads and trackers.
Surfshark can unblock 15 Netflix libraries around the globe as well as other streaming services like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Hotstar or Disney+.
It also allows an unlimited number of devices to be connected with the same account.
All servers are P2P-friendly and perfectly hide torrenting from ISP. It also offers VPN browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Surfhsark has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans. Currently, you can get a 2-year deal for just 1.99$/month.
ExpressVPN is one of the most privacy-focused services out there. It was publicly audited and proven to keep no logs. Its server network reaches more than 160+ locations worldwide.
Besides Internet Kill Switch and best-in-class encryption algorithms, this VPN provider runs all their servers on RAM memory. This means that all data is deleted once the server is restarted. This ensures ultimate privacy and hides everything from the employer.
ExpressVPN is great for unblocking streaming services and other content in restricted countries. It fully supports and hides torrenting and has amazing speeds when downloading files.
This VPN provider has apps for every platform and VPN extensions for Chrome and Firefox. However, to use the extensions will need administrator privileges as it requires a VPN app to work.
ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans.
In order to keep your online browsing at work private and hide it from your employer, you can achieve it by using a VPN that has strong and unbreakable encryption such as NordVPN. It hides the websites and files you download from your employer and makes it impossible to see the contents of your internet traffic. Combining it together with an incognito window that deletes your browsing history on your device once closed is the best way to keep your online activities hidden from your employer.