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Security & privacy

Clever way employers are watching nowadays

Are you the kind of person who, when at work, focuses 100 percent on work-related tasks and issues? You save all personal things like calls, emails and texts for your lunch break or when it’s time to head home?

If so, you probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to your employer possibly reading through your emails. But if you are one of the many people who find their digital life a bit too distracting to ignore for roughly eight or nine hours a day, you should take a moment to pause and think a bit before you get distracted.

Because while it may not come as much of a surprise, employers have access to technology that will let them read their employees’ emails. Even more than that, many use it.

That email could cost you

These days there are plenty of tracking devices with which employers could keep an eye on emails. Of course just because they can doesn’t mean they have to, but according to a survey by, many do exactly that.

The survey involved about 1,000 current employees and 28 employers and was conducted online in July. It not only asked what was happening, but about what each group thought was going on.

It discovered that 73 percent of current employees believe their bosses are watching them, though just 26 percent of them believe their work activities would actually cause their employers to begin monitoring.

Interestingly, employees who found themselves in lower management positions were most likely to feel like they were being monitored when compared to other levels, such as middle management, entry level, intermediate and senior, executive or top-level management.

But how close to the truth is that perception? According to respondents who identified themselves as employers, it’s at least in the ballpark.

More than 50 percent — 50.2, to be precise — said they do monitor work emails, while 39 percent watch internet browser usage or history. Work and personal cellphone usage is viewed by 39 percent, while social media habits earned just more than 27 percent.

Fun Fact: The first email — a test — was sent in 1971 over a precursor to the internet known as ARPANET.

As for why they are watching, 78 percent of employers who responded cited time management concerns.

online activity

Don’t want to get caught? There are some tricks

Another thing the survey found was that while most employees felt like the monitoring could lead to poor performance reviews, employers said any impact would more likely be seen in bonuses.

If the goal is to avoid any kind of punishment, obviously not getting distracted by non-work things would be a great route to go. If that’s not an option, there is privacy software that could prevent employers from seeing personal activity.

Remember, despite what you may think, private browsing, which is offered in most browsers, will not act as a shield between your employer and your non-work online activities.

But the big takeaway, really, is that when at work your computer is not really yours, and there may be no such thing as privacy.

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