A clear breakdown of everything your employer can (or can't) see on your computer

My Wirecutter colleague Thorin Klosowski has written a great new article on what not to do on your employer-issued computer. He consulted with security experts at the New York Times as well as Vantage Technology Consulting Group and more to get an overall idea of the different kinds of access levels that different companies can get.

Employers can install software to monitor what you do on your work-issued laptop or desktop. In the most watchful of workplaces, this may include keyloggers that can see everything you type or screenshot tools that track your productivity. What type of surveillance and security software is installed on your company computer is often based on two factors: how large the company is (and what resources it has to dedicate to this) and what type of information you deal with in your role. If you work with sensitive materials, such as health records, financial data, or government contracts, you can count on your employer keeping a careful eye on what you do.

For most of us, the fear of being heavily surveilled at work is unwarranted. Jesse Krembs, senior information security analyst at The New York Times, said, "Without supporting evidence, at scale this is pretty rare. It tends to generate a lot of useless data, rope the employer into liability issues, and generally make the team that monitors these surveillance systems miserable. That being said, almost all large companies have a targeted program for doing this, especially for dealing with suspected insider threat or fraud."

I've been working full-time remotely for 5 years now. While I like to think I'm pretty smart about keeping my work laptop separate from everything else I do, this reminded that — even from home! — my keystrokes and internet traffic can still be logged. My primary laptop also used to be a work computer, but I at least had the privileges to wipe it completely clean before I converted into my personal one. Although now I'm starting to worry that I may have missed something…

What Not to Do on Your Work Computer [Thorin Klosowski / Wirecutter]