If you’re one of those millions who work in an office for several hours on a daily basis, you know how refreshing it can be to take a short break to check social media or send some personal emails. Though it’s often not tolerated by employers, being able to get private affairs done during a lunch break is fine, especially if the company you’re working for wants to ensure a relaxed environment.
But as harmless as visiting social media while enjoying a well-deserved sandwich and a cup of joe for lunch sounds, it is not without its dangers. The thing is that online activities conducted via computers connected to your workplace’s network will never provide the same level of privacy you are used to at home. So unless you want your whole online activity to be seen by others, let us recommend you a few things to reclaim your online privacy at work.
Private Affairs on Office Networks
Why does privacy at work matter? Because the owner of the network can easily see the online activity of any connected device – whether it’s one of the company’s computers or a private smartphone. In simpler words, the IT department – and indirectly the big boss – will know exactly when and for how long Facebook is accessed, what kind of messages and emails are sent, what you purchased in an online shop, and which videos you watched. To put it simply, precaution is more than advised.
The simplest method of not letting superiors snoop into private affairs is to focus on work alone throughout the rest of the day and leave everything else for lunch breaks, no matter how big the temptation is. It’s also advisable to avoid using the company’s devices for private matters.
Granted, this doesn’t mean that company smartphones shouldn’t be used at all to quickly send urgent text messages or to make private calls from time to time. However, things like installing games for your kids on a company device or using the office network for torrenting shouldn’t be done using company devices. The same rule applies for the handling of personal files: it’s best to not to store them on the company’s devices , as these could be retrieved any time without warning, thus making you unable to retrieve anything that doesn’t belong to the company.
Blocked Websites and Online Services
A more drastic precaution some companies may take for the good of both the company and their employees is the complete deactivation of social media accounts, the main sources of distraction – and knowing the extensive user data these services collect this seems a considerable choice. Using your smartphone you may be able to once again get access to these websites by connecting to the internet over the cellular network rather than over the company’s Wi-Fi network. Considering your phone’s mobile internet connection may not be as fast and reliable indoors, it’s understandable that you’d much rather use a speedy Wi-Fi connection.
Software to Protect Your Privacy
Given that the online world is dangerous, it’s crucial to have protection before surfing the web. This is why VPNs are a must-have, since they encrypt all data and prevent third parties from snooping on the sites you visit. Thankfully more and more individuals realize the importance of protecting their online identity with a VPN, and they want to enjoy this protection at their workplace as well.
Even if you connect to the office’s network, the private VPN will make all online traffic invisible to everybody else, and it will also allow you to circumvent website blocking tools many employers use. One VPN subscription can be used on different devices, meaning you can set it up on your computer at home, your own smartphone and any mobile devices from work as well as any other internet connected devices that you access private data on.
If your workstation is used by other people or you never even use the same computer, some extra precautions have to be taken. One such measure is properly securing private email and social media accounts by either enabling two-factor authentication wherever it’s possible or by creating strong and unique passwords that no one can guess. Consider using a password manager like Dashlane, LastPass or Sticky Password, tools that not only store all credentials in a safe vault protected by a master password, but also provide additional security settings. Using this software you will never have to type in any passwords yourself anymore, eliminating the risk that your passwords are picked up by keylogger software that may be installed on your computer. Another security setting is the use of website advisors that prevent users from visiting compromised sites, thus making sure that office computers are always free from viruses and other malware.
VPN for Business Purposes
VPN service providers have realized the potential benefits their service has for companies, so it’s not surprising they provide their services for business users, too. In fact, investing in a special subscription to protect the entire office network at once has nothing but benefits. As a company you can cut down on the cost of VoIP calls by making your calls through an IP of the country to which you’re calling to. When traveling or working remotely using a public Wi-Fi network in a nearby coffee shop for instance you can protect any company data or communication by making use of an encrypted internet connection rather than through the unprotected public network.
These and many more reasons may even help you convince your employer or your company’s IT department to invest in a business VPN service for you and your colleagues. Chances are they aren’t even aware of the security benefits these services bring for the company.
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