Can my employer see what I do at work when I am connected to VPN?

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  1. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 158
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #11

    Post #2 you mean? There are no links in post 3 as I can see.
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  2. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 47,375
    Triple boot - Win 10 Pro, Win 10 Pro Insider (2) - (and a sprinkling of VMs)
       #12

    Hoggorm said:
    Post #2 you mean? There are no links in post 3 as I can see.
    No.... the link takes you to post #3. Simply click on the link provided, or just go there. It's only up 1 page. If you cannot find post #3, please say so.
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  3. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 47,375
    Triple boot - Win 10 Pro, Win 10 Pro Insider (2) - (and a sprinkling of VMs)
       #13

    I see you've signed off @Hoggorm. I realize it's late in Norway. Will check in the morning to see how you are doing.
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  4. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 17,113
    Windows 10 Pro
       #14

    Hoggorm said:
    I commute to work and live there combined for nearly six months a year. As you can imagine I have a lot of free time at work and I do not want my employer to know what I'm surfing and doing on the internet when not actually at work.

    When I do work for my employer however there are PCs available that are connected to the network, and I never use them for private stuff. Only work there.

    I have a private laptop (and iPad/iPhone) with me however and at home my router is running a VPN server that I connect to via the Wi-Fi provided at work.

    Can my employer see what I do on the internet when I am using my private laptop while connected to the VPN server at home?

    If so, what can they see and what can they not see? What is private and what is not private?
    No, your employer cannot see your activities beyond the fact that you used your private device in your free time to connect to your home VPN, using a network connection they have provided. More important, they have no right to control it.

    It would be a totally different question if you would use devices provided and owned by your employer, but even in that case, they would need a justified cause to check your activities, especially if done in your free time according to existing terms (your right to use their devices and network for private use in your free time).

    I know people in similar situation as yours, some Scandinavians working on North Sea oil and gas platforms, living weeks or months isolated with nowhere to go. Company provides network, and shared devices for those who do not have their own. Network used for employees free time activities is completely isolated from the network used for company's needs.

    It all comes right down to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says:

    Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and correspondence

    In some cases, it really is OK for employer to monitor also the private use. In a landmark case back in 2016, European Court of Human Rights decided in a case where an employee was asked to create a Yahoo Messenger account to be used for customer contacts. Employee was suspected to use this account mostly for his private stuff, employer checked it, found their suspicions true, and employee was sacked.

    The court decided that employer had full rights to do so, because the device used was owned by employer and the private activities happened during work hours. Employee lost the case.

    However, that is not even close to your case. Employer provides a network for employees to use in their free time because they cannot leave the site. They also provide devices, but you use your own. You only connect to your private VPN at home. Your employer has no rights to check for what purposes you use your private device connected to your private VPN.

    Long story, short version: No worries! Your device, legal use (employer provides network for free time use). Your home, your VPN.

    Kari
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  5. Trexx's Avatar
    Posts : 13
    Windows 10 Pro
       #15

    The thread appears to be a bit long, so I apologize for neglecting to read through it first, but the last post suggests you're working from home. Should that be the case, then you're fine. I wouldn't necessarily go snooping through any corporate databases that you don't have authorized access to, but other than that, like Kari said... 'no worries'.

    Now, if you were on location AT work in THEIR offices in a cubical, best believe 'big brother' is watching. Any decent network administrator getting paid to do their job will be sniffing packets and more than likely monitoring ALL network traffic, so... no... in that scenario, it wouldn't matter how highly rated your VPN is, how many proxy servers you bounce off of, what browser you use, spoof your IP... they'll see the traffic.
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  6. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 47,375
    Triple boot - Win 10 Pro, Win 10 Pro Insider (2) - (and a sprinkling of VMs)
       #16

    So, Hoggorm, apparently you are ok. Even though your device is accessing your VPN server at your home, first going thru the company wifi, they cannot see anything you do, because they are not allowed to.
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  7. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 17,113
    Windows 10 Pro
       #17

    Trexx said:
    The thread appears to be a bit long, so I apologize for neglecting to read through it first, but the last post suggests you're working from home.
    First post quite clearly tells this is not the case. OP works on the site for certain period of time, and can't leave the site when free. In free time, OP is offered network connection, which he / she uses from his / her quarters with his / her own device, connecting to his / her home VPN and from there further to Internet.

    My post, the last post before your reply which you tell suggests that OP is working from home, does in fact suggest nothing like that.


    Trexx said:
    Any decent network administrator getting paid to do their job will be sniffing packets and more than likely monitoring ALL network traffic, so... no... in that scenario, it wouldn't matter how highly rated your VPN is, how many proxy servers you bounce off of, what browser you use, spoof your IP... they'll see the traffic.
    The network admin would have to be quite a magician to find out where OP connects from his home VPN.


    f14tomcat said:
    So, Hoggorm, apparently you are ok. Even though your device is accessing your VPN server at your home, first going thru the company wifi, they cannot see anything you do, because they are not allowed to.
    Yes. Oil and gas rig workers are a typical example of scenarios like this. They remain on rig a few weeks, with nowhere to go in their free time. Companies offer the network to be used in free time, even some shared devices. Usually this employee network is completely isolated and separated from company's work network.

    OP only connecting to home VPN, there's no way employer could know anything about his / her online activities.

    Kari
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  8. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 9,057
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #18

    Hi there
    people like SHELL etc on Oil rigs usually have 2 totally different Wifi connections -- Corporate for use with company business and a Free (uncontrolled) guest Wifi system on which you can connect anything you like whenever.

    You usually have to re-login each week (lots of different contractors etc) and sign a disclaimer that you won'y use the facility for any illegal purposes --- I'd imagine anybody providing this type of guest access would have similar conditions in place.

    In case any crime is comitted the relevant authorities would have reason to request some log of that users activities so I'd imagine logs are kept but only perused / interrogated if a crime has been committed.

    Other reasons for minitoring might be to check up that users aren't spending too much time on guest networks uring working time.

    Both these conditions are perfectly reasonable it seems to me for a company to keep logs and check from time to time -- so just check with the employer on the proper conditions.

    What an emplyer can't do is give out personal data or contents of what you are doing on the net if there's no breaches of discipline - whether National or Company.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  9. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 158
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #19

    Thank you all for your contributions. To me it appears as there are some differences in thinking in the US and Europe.

    First - I'm just interested in the technical part here. The legal part is another matter that varies from country to country it seems.
    Kari said:
    No, your employer cannot see your activities beyond the fact that you used your private device in your free time to connect to your home VPN, using a network connection they have provided. More important, they have no right to control it.

    ***

    However, that is not even close to your case. Employer provides a network for employees to use in their free time because they cannot leave the site. They also provide devices, but you use your own. You only connect to your private VPN at home. Your employer has no rights to check for what purposes you use your private device connected to your private VPN.

    Long story, short version: No worries! Your device, legal use (employer provides network for free time use). Your home, your VPN.

    Kari

    If I understand Kari correctly, it is not possible for my employer to see anything I do while connected to my VPN at home. This is the important part regarding this post

    If my employer feels they should be able to see it, or even have the right to do so does not concern me at this stage. An oil rig comparison, as mentioned by Kari, is fairly close to how I work. I am physically located at my work for about 6 months a year. 3 of these months are my free time and off time. If I had had the opportunity I'd go home, but I cannot. Hence the legal part of this topic does not really matter. That is a just a matter between me and my employer. I want to be sure that they cannot see what I do on the internet for 3 months of my life every year and I understand that it is possible for me to take this opportunity from them if I connect to my own (or any VPN I guess?) VPN as described earlier in this post.

    If you have any other suggestion to how I can make sure they will not spy on me, please let me know. If we could my colleagues and I would buy our own internet subscription, but unfortunately that is not possible at my work location at the moment.

    It all comes down to the unpleasant fact that I do not trust them a bit. I would do anything to hinder them spying on me.


    Trexx said:
    The thread appears to be a bit long, so I apologize for neglecting to read through it first, but the last post suggests you're working from home. Should that be the case, then you're fine. I wouldn't necessarily go snooping through any corporate databases that you don't have authorized access to, but other than that, like Kari said... 'no worries'.

    Now, if you were on location AT work in THEIR offices in a cubical, best believe 'big brother' is watching. Any decent network administrator getting paid to do their job will be sniffing packets and more than likely monitoring ALL network traffic, so... no... in that scenario, it wouldn't matter how highly rated your VPN is, how many proxy servers you bounce off of, what browser you use, spoof your IP... they'll see the traffic.
    Isn’t VPN an encrypted “tunnel” from my laptop (that I own and paid for myself) to my VPN server at my house (that I also own and paid for myself)? Then how can my employer suddenly open this encrypted tunnel and see what is been transferred? Do you have any other suggestions to what I can do to protect my private life?



    f14tomcat said:
    So, Hoggorm, apparently you are ok. Even though your device is accessing your VPN server at your home, first going thru the company wifi, they cannot see anything you do, because they are not allowed to.
    Still, if they have the opportunity, I would assume that they would take it if it is technically possible. And that is alone the reason for this thread. I have to be sure that they technically cannot watch me.

    Kari said:
    The network admin would have to be quite a magician to find out where OP connects from his home VPN.

    OP only connecting to home VPN, there's no way employer could know anything about his / her online activities.

    Kari
    Sound good to me! And I hope you are correct. Still I see that some argue that they indeed can see what I am doing. Unfortunately I fear that my new employer will do what they can to spy on me and my colleagues…

    jimbo45 said:
    Hi there
    people like SHELL etc on Oil rigs usually have 2 totally different Wifi connections -- Corporate for use with company business and a Free (uncontrolled) guest Wifi system on which you can connect anything you like whenever.
    This is a new employer that will take over my work location so I do not know what they will provide yet. Anyway, it is not a solution as long as they still might have the possibility to spy. And they’ll take that opportunity, I fear.
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  10. lx07's Avatar
    Posts : 5,477
    1903
       #20

    Hoggorm said:
    Isn’t VPN an encrypted “tunnel” from my laptop (that I own and paid for myself) to my VPN server at my house (that I also own and paid for myself)? Then how can my employer suddenly open this encrypted tunnel and see what is been transferred?
    You'd want to check for leaks (see VPN Tests and Checks - The Ultimate How-To Guide | Restore Privacy for example) but assuming that is OK as has been said before while they could see you are connecting to your VPN they can't see what you are doing as it is encrypted.

    Do you have someone at home who can turn your VPN server back on in case of powercut etc? If not another option may be a paid VPN rather than running your own VPN server 24*7 for 6 months - it might also be cheaper than cost of electricity (although I didn't calculate it) but paid VPN have their own trust issues (what they log etc)...

    Depending on what you want to do you might want to think of TOR for browsing - again they can see you connect but not what you do.
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