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

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  1. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 166
    Windows 10
       #1

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


    Hello,

    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?
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  2. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 34,251
    Win 10 Pro (1903) (2nd PC is 21H2)
       #2

    Hi, some discussion on possible issues here:
    How to Test Your VPN’s Security (Updated 2019)
    https://www.pcworld.com/article/3150256/how-to-check-if-your-vpn-is-leaking-private-data.html


    Any possible vulnerabilities or weaknesses may depend on your particular VPN.
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  3. Barman58's Avatar
    Posts : 4,146
    Windows 10 Pro x64 Latest RP
       #3

    It's generally accepted in law that an employer has a right to know what their internet link is being used for, by their employees, as this could be used against the company should it be used for illegal activities.

    What this means in real terms is that although you may hide the data that is being accessed by use of a VPN or other device or technique, this may be seen by the employer as a breech of trust which may be a matter for discipline under the rules in place for internet use.

    The level of discipline applied should be laid out in an Internet Use Policy document, issued to the employee, but a lot of these policies are non specific and so can vary, so I would suggest that care is taken in using a company internet link for personal purposes, unless you have written authority to do so, Also the use of a VPN in these circumstances could be seen by the employer as an attempt to hide what is happening so could lead to action anyway.
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  4. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 11,057
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #4

    Hi there

    @Hoggorm

    some employers (at least here in Iceland) have a Guest Wifi system totally isolated from their standard corporate networks and you can only connect phones or private laptops to it -- they don't care what you do with it on that network -- although you have to declare that any misuse or law breaking activities are your own responsibility.

    Usually you can't connect private laptops to the corporate networks (at least here) but if you are allowed to use your own laptop to access a corporate VPN then you have to sign a waiver saying that you will only use the machine for company purposes while connected to the LAN.

    What you do with your own laptop outside office hours or using only public internet services is entirely your own business. --That's how the law here works but might be different where you live.

    Iceland is quite free as far as Internet is concerned --even places like TPB aren't blocked (although TOR always gets round those problems) but you still can get into serious trouble if you load pirated software on to corporate machines --yes we have jails here too -- some Bankers found that out to their cost a few years ago !!!

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  5. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 166
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #5

    dalchina said:
    Any possible vulnerabilities or weaknesses may depend on your particular VPN.
    Thank you. I'll take a look at the link. I've set up the VPN server myself using my Asus router (built in VPN server), so I do not buy a VPN service anywhere.

    Barman58 said:
    It's generally accepted in law that an employer has a right to know what their internet link is being used for, by their employees, as this could be used against the company should it be used for illegal activities.

    What this means in real terms is that although you may hide the data that is being accessed by use of a VPN or other device or technique, this may be seen by the employer as a breech of trust which may be a matter for discipline under the rules in place for internet use.
    I am not concerned about the legal part of connecting to a VPN, only if my employer can see what I do on the internet in my spare time when they do not pay me to do work for them. Due to the nature of my work a wifi is offered for private use, but I would still like to be sure they cannot spy on me when I am off work, should they like to do so.
    jimbo45 said:
    Usually you can't connect private laptops to the corporate networks (at least here) but if you are allowed to use your own laptop to access a corporate VPN then you have to sign a waiver saying that you will only use the machine for company purposes while connected to the LAN.

    What you do with your own laptop outside office hours or using only public internet services is entirely your own business. --That's how the law here works but might be different where you live.
    This matter is using my own laptop, in my own spare time, but due to the nature of my work I have to stay at work for one week at a time. Every 12 hours I work, every 12 hours ifs my free time, and then my employer are not even allowed to call me. But they might like to spy on what I am doing on the internet anyway (?) and that is why I'd like to make sure they cannot do so...

    I will of course not do anything that is illegal in Norway (very little is illegal on the internet in fact), but I still would like to be sure that my personal life is protected.
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  6. bro67's Avatar
    Posts : 8,422
    Mac OS Catalina
       #6

    No, your employer cannot track on your private devices on your own network, they can track through the VPN, if it is owned by the company and is at the first layer of the network, by having your gateway control it or your Internet connection is being paid by them and you are using say a VOIP set that they require you to plug your laptop or desktop into, use a supplied router, etc.

    If it is a machine owned by your employer, they can employ what are called first level surveillance tactics, by tracking where you visit, by keeping a copy of your surfing habits, which would be bookmarks, cookies and sites visited, for in case a user starts surfing adult, gambling, gaming sites (Basically anything not work related).
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  7. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 166
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #7

    bro67 said:
    No, your employer cannot track on your private devices on your own network, they can track through the VPN, if it is owned by the company and is at the first layer of the network, by having your gateway control it or your Internet connection is being paid by them and you are using say a VOIP set that they require you to plug your laptop or desktop into, use a supplied router, etc.
    I see. In this case I have my private laptop/iPhone/iPad connected to a Wi-Fi that my employer provides. The VPN server is mine however and not controlled by them. Also, they do not have any legal access to my devices. Physical access that is at least

    bro67 said:
    If it is a machine owned by your employer, they can employ what are called first level surveillance tactics, by tracking where you visit, by keeping a copy of your surfing habits, which would be bookmarks, cookies and sites visited, for in case a user starts surfing adult, gambling, gaming sites (Basically anything not work related).
    This kind of surveillance by an employer is illegal in Norway (and the EU I believe). Now that does not mean that it does not happen, and that is why I'd like to be sure, and protect my private life. Hence this post.
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  8. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 55,567
    Multi-boot Windows 10/11 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #8

    Hoggorm said:
    I see. In this case I have my private laptop/iPhone/iPad connected to a Wi-Fi that my employer provides. The VPN server is mine however and not controlled by them. Also, they do not have any legal access to my devices. Physical access that is at least



    This kind of surveillance by an employer is illegal in Norway (and the EU I believe). Now that does not mean that it does not happen, and that is why I'd like to be sure, and protect my private life. Hence this post.
    Please refer to this post: Can my employer see what I do at work when I am connected to VPN?

    This thread may be progressing beyond the scope of the forum to assist you.
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  9. Hoggorm's Avatar
    Posts : 166
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #9

    f14tomcat said:
    Please refer to this post: Can my employer see what I do at work when I am connected to VPN?

    This thread may be progressing beyond the scope of the forum to assist you.
    I do not understand what post you refer to?
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  10. f14tomcat's Avatar
    Posts : 55,567
    Multi-boot Windows 10/11 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #10

    Hoggorm said:
    I do not understand what post you refer to?
    Post #3. Click on the blue link provided.
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