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Security & privacy

Think your boss is spying? Check for these programs and apps

Working from home has become the norm for millions of people around the world during the pandemic. Most find that the familiarity of a home office increases productivity, which could result in more revenue for your company.

Being comfortable to do things at your own pace with minimal distractions tend to increase staff happiness. Tap or click here to find out how to give your home office a high-tech makeover. But your boss might have other ideas and take their own steps to make sure you are not slacking off.

Trust is important in the workplace. Unfortunately, if you have an overly suspicious boss, you might see some strange things happening on your computer. Here are some tell-tale signs that they might be spying on you.

Secret spying software

An MIT survey found that since the start of the pandemic, a third of U.S. workers shifted to remote working. So, it won’t be strange to have time attendance or workload management software deployed for your company.

RELATED: Don’t take this survey lurking in your inbox. It’s a scam

The software can help you keep track of your tasks and remind you of certain goals. You might not like clocking in and out, but it’s not the worst that can happen. Sales in the U.S. of employee tracking software increased by 55% in June 2020 compared to pre-COVID sales. In the U.K., as much as 20% of management admitted that they are using spying software to monitor staff.

Management can request digital logs to see when people log in or out of their computers. Tracking software is usually installed without your knowledge or permission by the IT department, and you would have no way of removing it.

Some of the most popular programs to look out for are Time Doctor, Teramind or VeriClock.

Teramind, as an example, explains on its website that it can “monitor employee activity with customizable reports to identify team, department, individual-level productivity, social media use, time spent on projects, apps, and more.” It can also record your screen and send a copy to your line manager.

Spying is a booming business

Time Doctor, Hubstaff and FlexiSPY software alone make up for 60% of employee monitoring. And this is an industry that’s projected to be worth $1.3 billion by 2027.

Recent online searches could indicate mistrust from senior management. Terms like “work from home monitoring tools” skyrocketed by 5,000% in April of 2020. Searches for “work from home monitoring software” increased by 4,000%.

With increased searches on how to monitor staff, it resulted in increased sales for companies that provide the software. Time Doctor saw a 134% in sales in May last year, while Hubstaff sales increased by 66%.

What to look out for

It can be tough to check if you are being monitored, especially if your company uses software like NetVizor. The company prides itself on the fact that its software works “entirely in stealth; that is, it’s nearly invisible to the consumer.”

To check for spy software on a Windows computer:

  • Click the Start menu and then Settings.
  • On the next screen, click Apps.

This will bring up a list of all the installed apps on your workstation. Scroll through the list and be on the lookout for any of the software programs mentioned above.

RELATED: Security warning: These apps are reading your emails and selling your data

Be wary of anything that sounds like a keylogger. This hidden piece of code can be installed on your system without you ever knowing about it. It does what the name implies: it logs all your keystrokes and sends it to a server for analysis.

This will include email replies, private chat messages, social media posts, conversations with other staff and website tracking.

Have you ever noticed your laptop or PC camera’s in-use indicator light up? Your movements and time at your desk might be tracked through the camera. Several of the software we mentioned include the ability to spy through it.

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