Workplace privacy: Five things that will make IT start monitoring your work computer

The IT department can be your greatest ally – or they can be your worst enemy.

Most of us use computers at some point during our jobs. Even in manual labour jobs are not exempt from having to file the occasional reports or send emails to superiors. Many fail to realize there is a server logging every single keystroke you type or link you click. And when it comes to your work computer nothing is considered private. Everything is fair game for the IT police.

But don’t start eyeing your laptop like it’s the Hal 9000 getting ready to cut off your oxygen supply. As someone who used to work hands-on in the IT department, I promise you the majority of IT folks are honest, ordinary people who want to police your online activity about as much as they want to clean out a shopping mall toilet. It’s messy, ugly, and a situation best avoided.

And here’s how. With these five ways to avoid the IT police (plus a bonus, super-important one we too often overlook) you can sleep well at night know your job safe from prying eyes.

1.  Don’t Use Office Wi-Fi To Let Off Steam

Shooting the breeze online about so-and-so’s conduct, quality of work, or personal hygiene might relieve frustration at the moment, but it can have severe repercussions. If you must blow off steam while at work, use your own device (not your office-issued cell phone). And don’t forget to switch over to a non-office network.

Certain words can trigger warning messages on networks, particularly if the language is salty or politically incorrect. Call your co-workers any name you want, but only on your personal phone

2.  No Porn Or You’ll Get A Visit From The IT Department

If you thought this one was obvious, you’d be wrong. More than 3 percent of American workers admit to watching porn at work – which means the actual number is much higher.

Employers and contractors at the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency were busted for porn surfing and sharing pics on government computers in 2012. And in the UK Parliament buildings, more 300K searches for porn sites have been found.

What’s worse, naughty sites are often chock full of malware that will lead the IT police direct to your desk.

Like your paycheck? Stay away from your favourite XXX until you get home.

3.  Big Uploads Or Downloads

Sending or receiving large attachments through email or otherwise will frequently set off alarms in the IT department. The slowdown of network traffic – because you wanted to download a copy the new Baywatch film – will land you in hot water.

4.  Low Output

The flipside to downloading large files often, or scouring Google for the latest news is just as attention getting. Sparse activity on your computer can be a sign you’re a secret slacker.

5.  Keep Your Other Job(s) Separate

With the economy today, many people have a second job. And while that can mean great things for your bank account, a successful blog or eBbay store can attract the IT police. When things get boring at work, don’t let temptation pull you over to work on side gigs. Frequent, lengthy trips to websites that have nothing to do with your job will raise a flag on your activity. Bosses rarely enjoy paying you for your second job.

6.  Avoid The IT Police: Bonus Tip

Everyone goes to a sports, entertainment, or news site now and then. It’s the new normal. And for the most part, employers understand. The quick 2- or 3-minute break is healthy and often generates an increase in productivity when you get back to business.

But if you raise the curiosity of the IT police with one of the no-no’s above, they’re going to look at your complete browsing history – not just the stuff that brought you to their attention in the first place. Logging 10-hours every week on NFL.com won’t earn you much sympathy from your boss. Keep recreational browsing to a reasonable minimum if you want to avoid compounding your troubles.

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