Employer privacy question w/Opera

  • Ok, I don't think this has been covered anywhere. I've searched and couldn't find an answer.

    I have an MS Surface issued by my employer. I only use it when away from the office, i.e. on wifi/ISPs outside my employer's control. They loaded some work software on the device before I received it (I don't have a list of all of it).

    Here's my question - without having the device in their hands, will they be able to track my web browsing remotely if I use Opera exclusively and access the web only on non-work ISPs? Should I do some of the totally work-related browsing using Firefox to throw them off the scent?

    I won't be doing anything illegal or NSFW, just social media, on Opera. We are allowed to use the devices on the internet for work, but my employer is pretty rigid about personal web use on company devices. Just wondering if they can track me remotely in this situation.

    Thanks!

  • It would depend on how Windows is set on your device. In theory your employer could even block the installation of any software.

  • @leocg I was able to install Opera, so I have that flexibility.

    What do you mean about how Windows is set? Is there anything I need to look for? Thanks.

  • The administrator could set policies to determine what the other users can or cannot do on the computer.

  • In theory, your employer could have installed one of a number of key-logging or snooping kinds of software as part of the "work software" on the device, and there's little reason these could not 'phone home' periodically with regard to what you do on the computer. Moreover, the Surface version of Windows contains an 'event viewer' log which can reveal when the system boots and shuts down, as well as error messages from apps software on the system; while it doesn't report home, later analysis of it can reveal how long you used the system and when.

    Much depends on the nature of your employer, the specific terms of your employment, the explicit conditions of usage of company-owned equipment, and local privacy laws about employer snooping. You probably know better than anyone else about the likelihood of your employer monitoring in some way regarding usage. But as always, if in any serious doubt, caution would suggest "don't do it".

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