Are you someone who regularly uses your company’s Wi-Fi while working in the office, perhaps to connect your personal mobile phone too?
Surely, you can’t be the first person to have a cheeky browse on Facebook while on the clock.
But if you do partake in personal activities on your phone during work hours, will they be logged in the company WiFi records?
It’s definitely a concern worth considering if there is sensitive or private information on your device that you don’t want to be visible on a new network.
It’s also important to consider that your employer MAY even be able to track the activities of your devices if they are connected to the company’s Wi-Fi.
But don’t worry – you still have some control if you’d rather they didn’t see what’s saved on there.
If you don’t want your personal details to be potentially accessible over the WiFi network, there are some steps you can take to hide them. Keep on reading below to find out what they are!
Can Employers See Wi-Fi Activity On Personal Phones?
Generally speaking, employers can monitor your activities on the phones or other mobile devices that they have provided.
But are they able to track activities on your personal gadgets that you have connected to the company’s Wi-Fi?
Most internet connections these days are encrypted.
While this means your employer or company may be able to see the websites that you have accessed through it, they probably won’t be able to see exactly what you’ve looked at.
(Keep in mind that this may not be applicable if you visit sites with HTTP in the URL instead of secure HTTPS, as they are usually unencrypted.)
For example, if you visited a shopping or commerce website, your employer will know that you accessed that website because the packets (data) will be transferred to that site’s servers.
However, they will not be able to see your exact activities while on the site.
Of course, if your employer sees that you spent most of your time on websites unrelated to your work, then that might be a problem for you!
Well-established businesses might already have firewalls in place for the purpose of blocking connections to certain sites. Even minimally savvy IT departments are likely to be aware of such methods for preventing access.
While using your personal devices to access websites during work hours means you aren’t using your company’s properties to do so, it’s likely that your employer won’t be happy to see you spending time on activities not related to your job.
If you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi, but instead using your own personal data plan on your phone, then you have less reason to worry. Employers do not have the right to spy on your own personal devices!
Can Network Administrators See Incognito Browsing?
‘Incognito’ browsing launched in 2008 and is now widely known about and used.
The purpose of Incognito mode is that it doesn’t save your browsing history, cookies, site data, or any information entered into forms.
However, while Incognito mode can hide your activity to a point, be aware that it is not a perfect solution for stopping others from seeing what you’re doing. People accessing DNS queries are still able to see your private activities!
While it should prevent the browser from accepting cookies as you visit sites, it is not considered a very effective way of hiding your browsing activity from your internet service provider.
Here’s a brief explanation of how it works.
Whenever you access a website, the browser demands the website’s IP address from a DNS server that’s provided by the internet service provider.
When the DNS server responds, you can then access the website. The entire process is still recorded even if you’re in an incognito window.
Your internet service provider, or ISP, can track your DNS query and send it to law enforcement if there’s a need to.
This all goes to say: Your network administrator at work will most likely be able to see the pages you’ve visited, even on Incognito mode!
There are alternative browsing methods you can try. Several virtual private networks (VPN) providers have their own DNS services that do not collect your browsing data.
To summarize, an incognito mode cannot stop Wi-Fi administrators from finding out your browsing history if they wish to.
They will also be able to see more information on your activities if websites aren’t encrypted with HTTPS.
For a better method of hiding your browsing history VPNs or TOR should be used, as they are designed to not track your online activity. The problem is that installing and using them in your workplace may be a bit more difficult than at home!
Can My Employer See What Apps I Use On Wi-Fi?
Many employees are unaware that their employers can see what they are doing- and potentially even what apps they are using– on their personal phones or other devices while they’re connected to work internet access.
As mentioned previously, they might not be able to see all of the specific details of what you’re doing, but they can likely still see the sessions when your device is communicating with external IP addresses.
For example, if you open the Quora app on your phone while connected to the Wi-Fi, there will be a connection between the internal IP address that your phone was assigned, and port 443.
In short, your mobile phone’s IP address will establish a session with the servers.
Even if you play a game on your mobile, the router will be able to track the IP address of the server that hosts the ads you see while playing the game.
This means your employers can track the apps you used to play games, even if they’re on your personal device.
Even though they can’t see the list of apps you are using directly, they can conveniently track what servers you are accessing.
Additionally, they can track the servers even if you aren’t using a dedicated app and instead access them through a web browser.
This means that an employer can track what apps you use while the device is connected to Wi-Fi.
If you want to stop this from happening, use a VPN!
Alternatively, you can also utilize proxies. If you do, all of the websites or traffic will be funneled using the single IP address that is on your VPN host servers.
Bear in mind that an employer does have full authority to monitor the traffic of their network to keep track of activities that could include hacking or illegal activity.
Can My Employer Read My Text Messages Through Wi-Fi?
Many employees consider it illegal for their employers to read or access any personal data on their workers’ devices.
However, this doesn’t take into consideration that the connection belongs to the employer.
You should always assume that if you use any facility provided by your employer, they have full capability to monitor any network activity.
Facilities can include Wi-Fi (both private and guest), internet and internal networks, phones, email or any other device provided by the employer.
Furthermore, if you install software on your device to carry out tasks as part of your job, that may also allow your employer to read anything they want on the device. As such, you should always be careful when it comes to installing anything.
One thing you can’t do over Wi-Fi is sent standard text messages (SMS). These can only be sent using a mobile network. As such, employers can’t track them!
Also, if you are an iPhone user, you’ll be reassured to learn that messages sent via iMessage do not initiate through any network. That means they can’t be tracked even if you’re using the office Wi-Fi.
Messages that you send through social media apps like WhatsApp or Telegram require an internet connection, but they can’t be traced because they are encrypted.
Your employer can see that you used them, but won’t be able to see anything beyond that.
All in all, you can be confident that your employer won’t be able to go through your text messages.
Until or unless you use your office mobile as your personal mobile and send texts from it, your employer won’t be able to see your personal communication!
It’s important to be very careful while using a company’s network or devices, as the company can see the IP addresses of all the sites you browse using the web, even if they’re on your own device.
If the employer provides the device, you should assume that they can monitor every activity on it. They may even have trackers installed on the devices!
Despite seeming like a breach of privacy, a company is likely to do this to mitigate risks of hacking or illegal website access on their worksite as much as possible.
Therefore, a business has the responsibility to carry out necessary surveillance to protect its reputation.
Regarding personal devices, an employer should not be able to track anything if the device isn’t connected to the Wi-Fi network itself.
As such, your devices and browsing activities while using your personal mobile network are safe.
If you want to further safeguard your browsing history while accessing the office network, it’s a good idea to use a VPN. If you do, they can’t keep track of any IP addresses accessed.
The company’s IT department is likely to understand these topics in detail and may help you to resolve any problems.
After all, it’s the IT department that will have set up firewalls in the first place and which will be monitoring the activities taking place across the company’s devices and connections!
Do you know how to stay safe on your smartphone? Keep yourself protected with our Comprehensive A-Z Of Smartphone Security right HERE!