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WFH: Spy software may be watching and tracking you

So, the coronavirus outbreak has you working from home in an effort to help flatten the curve. You’re trying to focus on the job at hand, but there’s so much craziness in the world that you just want to get away for a while and check on your family and friends.

While that might be a nice mental break, it’s not exactly what’s best for business. Whether you’re in the office or at home, you should be focused on work while you’re on the clock. Tap or click for 7 productivity tools to improve work performance.

Managers and company owners know how easy it is for workers to become distracted, and many are taking drastic actions to keep their teams on task. Feel like someone is watching you? They might be.

Is your boss watching you?

Instead of relying on workers emailing status updates, some companies are going to the next level when it comes to keeping tabs on employees. Some are actually installing spying software on their employees’ computers that capture every keystroke and log every website they visit.

This isn’t necessarily a new practice, either. Companies have been tracking workers in the office for years, but now this technology is making its way to employees working from home, too. Tap or click here to find out how your employer sees everything you do on your device.

Axos Financial Inc. CEO Gregory Garrabrants admitted his company was doing this. “We have seen individuals taking unfair advantage of flexible work arrangements,” he told Bloomberg News. “If daily tasks aren’t completed, workers will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

Axos isn’t the only company using this type of software while employees are working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Surveillance software is being used by more and more companies across the U.S. In fact, spying software manufacturers say sales have nearly tripled in recent weeks.

RELATED: The coronavirus danger no one is talking about – widespread cyberattacks

Is this legal?

Wait, it’s illegal for your company to spy on you, right? Actually, no. As long as your company discloses it’s using spying software to you upfront, it’s perfectly legal. Your company may even be doing this if you’re working in the office.

Plus, it’s not just a matter of spying on workers. Some companies are justifying the use of spying software in the name of security.

By monitoring employees’ computers, companies say they are able to cut down on potential security breaches. As you know, security threats are everywhere and if spying software eliminates certain threats, it could be very cost-effective for an organization.

How to know if you’re being watched

How can you tell if someone is accessing your files and applications without your knowledge? Is someone tracking you behind your back? Thankfully, there are ways to find out.

If someone has been poking around on your computer, there’s bound to be traces of it, right? Correct. On both PCs and Macs, there are simple ways to view recently accessed files, folders and even applications.

With these tools, if you notice an item has been opened that you don’t remember opening, it’s a sign that someone has been accessing your system without your knowledge. Here’s how to view recent items on both a PC and Mac:

On PC:

Recent Files:

  1. Open a File Explorer window by clicking its taskbar shortcut, opening the Documents folder or by pressing Windows key + E.
  2. On the left side of the File Explorer’s menu, click “Quick Access.” This will show a list of files that were recently opened. If you see something on this list that you don’t remember opening, then someone may have been poking around your computer.

On Mac:

Recent items:

  1. Click on the Apple logo on the left-hand side of the menu bar.
  2. Hover your mouse over “Recent Items”
  3. Here, you’ll see the 10 most recent items accessed in three categories: Applications, Documents and Servers

Recent folders:

  1. Open a Finder window
  2. While the window is active, click “Go” on the menu bar
  3. Hover your mouse over “Recent Folders.” Similar to “Recent Items,” you’ll see the 10 folders that were most recently accessed

Those are just a couple of things to look for on PCs and Macs. There are more, like checking your browser’s history and recent logon events.

We have an article on that details all of the things you need to look for to see if someone is snooping on your device. Tap or click here for details.

Life can be chaotic at times, especially when we find ourselves in situations like what we’re all going through now. If you have children who are home now that schools are being shuttered, they may need a little attending to during work hours.

But don’t let that keep you from accomplishing the job you’re being paid to do. Spend a few minutes helping the kids when necessary but be transparent with your boss and let them know when you need to step away for a minute.

You may also like: Find out how much money to expect from COVID-19 stimulus

We’re all facing new challenges during these troubled times. Establishing trust between employees and their employers is the least we can do to make it through this together.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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