Privacy at Work

Privacy at Work

Posted on Sep 27, 2016

Privacy at Work: For Employees Only

Say you roll into work, power up the computer, and then log in to your Gmail account to take care of some personal stuff. Did you know your employer can be monitoring those emails—and even use them to make employment decisions?

According to a survey by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute, over half of all employers fire workers for email and Internet abuse.

If you feel like that’s a violation of your privacy, then think again. When you’re on a work computer, you have surrendered your right to privacy.

  • Your employer can legally monitor anything you do on the company network.
    Courts have granted employers the right to monitor what employees do on work computer systems and equipment. It doesn’t matter if it’s from your company email account or your personal account. It’s all legal. The company has the right to record your every keystroke.
  • It’s likely that your company is exercising the right to monitor your email at work.
    According to surveys, 43% of companies monitor workers’ email. Of them, 73% use technology tools to automatically monitor, and 40% assign an individual to read and review emails manually.
  • Your personal credentials could be discovered (and stolen).
    Maybe you like to shop on Amazon while you’re at your desk. Keep in mind that your employer can record all your credentials and history. Even if they don’t intend to investigate, if they are sued and try to indemnify themselves, they may have to submit your information. And consider if hackers get into your company’s network. The bad guys could access your shopping history and credentials too.
  • Any electronic communication on your employer’s network could be used against you.
    Your personal emails might not only get you fired—they could get you prosecuted. Judges could subpoena your personal email accounts to be used in court.
  • Deleting information does not erase it completely.
    There are ways for data to be retrieved, even if you think it’s gone forever. For example, Anthony Sutton, the director of Cream HR, says one of his clients once downloaded Snapchat on a work phone and presumed that they could send inappropriate images, since they self-destruct. But someone took a screenshot of it, and the image resurfaced.

In light of all this, here’s our advice: It’s best to keep your personal devices off the company’s network, even if the network is provided as an employee benefit. Since anything connected to the company’s network is fair game for monitoring and suing, you’d be wise to use your own data instead. With the prevalence of smartphones and the affordability of data plans, there’s no need to use the company’s Wi-Fi. Be cautious about doing anything personal with company IT resources. It could get you—and them—in trouble.

The Inside Spy: For Employers Only

How much liberty do you give your staff in using the company network? Maybe you give them the benefit of unrestricted use. But have you considered enforcing policies to guide appropriate usage? Did you know you could even limit certain public applications like Facebook from the network?

It takes a good strategy to protect your company from inappropriate (and potentially incriminating) network use, while still giving employees a sense of freedom.

Here are important things to remember:

  • Personal devices decrease employee productivity.
    A recent study indicated that having smartphones decreases employee productivity by 26%.
  • Discourage employees from connecting their personal devices to the company Wi-Fi.
    Have employees use their own data plans, especially now that they are more affordable than before. Explain to them that this reduces the company’s security and liability risks. (And if they complain that they’ll use too much of their data, then they’re likely using their personal devices too much at work anyway.)
  • Exercise your right to protect your company’s network.
    You should monitor everything that goes on in your company’s network, including any personal usage. Don’t let irresponsible employees lead to your company’s demise.

Increase Productivity, Decrease Risk

MNS makes it easy for you to evaluate your employees’ network usage. We partner with Teramind to monitor and report how much time employees spend on different applications and activities.

After installing Teramind, 70% of companies discovered instances of misuse. This cloud-based product requires a client login and is sold a la carte. The cost ranges from $39 to $69 a month per employee. Encouraging smart use of the network benefits the whole company. Contact us to learn more.