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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Working from home and using a VPN. I log in to Outlook 365 online for work. I also log into an online database for work. Both of these are completely online. The VPN I use is something I purchased for home. There is no work software installed on my home PC that I'm aware of. After reading some articles, I'm concerned about Microsoft Teams and the ability for misuse.

With or without the VPN, is there a way for my employer to monitor my activities on my home computer?

Thanks!
 

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Where I'm confused is whether or not you need vpn to connect to work? Regardless, your work can't monitor you unless you clicked on something from work provided link that was installed a monitor program on yours.

Now if your work requires VPN and you connect to your work's machine and open up a browser from your work's machine then obviously they could monitor it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, they tell us to use a VPN during work. So I was wondering if they can really see all of our activities that way and why...
 

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Yes, they tell us to use a VPN during work. So I was wondering if they can really see all of our activities that way and why...
If your VPN is giving you access to your office network then the employer will see and can record anything and everything you do just like they cou dif you were located in the office. Now if it is just a random VPN such as Private Internet Access they can't but also makes no sense why they would want you to use one of those in the first place.
 
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If your VPN is giving you access to your office network then the employer will see and can record anything and everything you do just like they cou dif you were located in the office. Now if it is just a random VPN such as Private Internet Access they can't but also makes no sense why they would want you to use one of those in the first place.
This actually depends on how they are tunneling the VPN. Most companies shouldn't be using split tunneling, therefore all traffic would be routed through the company domain while connected to the VPN. But if you are connected to your own VPN, then connecting up into 365 to do your work, there's no tracking going on from the company outside of what you are doing within 365.

If this is your own personal VPN service you don't have to worry about any tracking when doing personal things (from your company)
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All the employees were told to install VeePN, maybe it's the cheapest, for that reason. I read an article about it VeePN VPN Review: Is It Any Good? [2021 Update] , but I didn't find information anywhere that my activity can be viewed through it. It's just that the laptop I use for work, I also use outside of work hours for personal purposes. Even if they are monitoring my work, I don't care, but I don't want anyone to affect my personal space...
 

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All the employees were told to install VeePN, maybe it's the cheapest, for that reason. I read an article about it VeePN VPN Review: Is It Any Good? [2021 Update] , but I didn't find information anywhere that my activity can be viewed through it. It's just that the laptop I use for work, I also use outside of work hours for personal purposes. Even if they are monitoring my work, I don't care, but I don't want anyone to affect my personal space...
My guess is they want everyone on a secure platform vs just your home, as they can't verify what type of security you have implemented, but don't want to shell out to provide their own VPN services. From a tracking point of view, it is no different then you just running directly from your own connection. I wouldn't worry about it.
 

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My company uses a VPN in order for us to access certain applications. I only log into the VPN when I need to something that requires work applications. For most of the other tasks (email and spreadsheets, etc...) the VPN remains disconnected. Most of the company docs I access are on Box, which does not require a VPN. The only time they can track you is when you are on their VPN.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My guess is they want everyone on a secure platform vs just your home, as they can't verify what type of security you have implemented, but don't want to shell out to provide their own VPN services. From a tracking point of view, it is no different then you just running directly from your own connection. I wouldn't worry about it.
Thanks! Cause I was beginning to think I might be paranoid :)
 

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Thanks! Cause I was beginning to think I might be paranoid :)
If they provided a specific link from which to download the VPN software, or gave you a specific configuration file to use or a DNS server address, they may have the capability to monitor you. If not you are good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If they provided a specific link from which to download the VPN software, or gave you a specific configuration file to use or a DNS server address, they may have the capability to monitor you. If not you are good.
They sent me a link to download the VPN, but I downloaded it from another website.
 

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They sent me a link to download the VPN, but I downloaded it from another website.
The client VPN you downloaded is irrelevant. You need to know who the host is, if it's a third party I doubt they can track you if it's your companies servers, and I suspect it is, they can most likely see what you do when the VPN client is active.
 

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Sorry but the truth is they can. Many vpn endpoints can validate the software you're using depending on the vpn configuration. They often can have the vpn install software on the machine it's running on - for things like security software and such. Every time you login these scripts can run updating the installed software. And yes this can include spyware as "employee monitoring software".

Now, it is typical that companies this paranoid usually issue laptops to remote employees and only allow vpn from company laptops. If you attempt to use your own personal machine it will fail. For this they normally give you a gateway to which you remote desktop to s terminal server or your on premise machine.

But it's been known for companies to not give a crap and blithely install it on personal PCs for monitoring purposes.

Once installed, many report to a cloud service and do not require the vpn.

Depending on your situation is how it gets fixed. If you can, get a company issued laptop and use that. Treat it like it's always monitoring you so close it when you're done for the day and use it for everything - office 365, teams, databases vpn etc. If you need to do personal stuff, use your pc.

If instead it's a contract position and you handle multiple clients, get them to issue you a client specific laptop (if they're big enough to have a vpn they're big enough to give contractors company laptops).

Now, the reality can be different. For example, if your company is small and you know everyone from your team mates to the CEO, chances are they're not monitoring you. If you're not sure, check out the company policies. Usually they will spell out the details. If it's a big company, or you have a middle manager on a power kick or hating working from home because they think people goof off then be warned because this is a situation where such software gets used.

My company was small. The company laptop I was issued had office 2010 installed when I got it and I know the IT director personally and he sets up all the computers. I know he doesn't install spyware as he has no manpower to monitor people. But we got acquired, and right now things are status quo, but in the future it's unknown as they may still have him set up machines or ship up machines.

I've also contracted for many companies and used those laptops strictly for contracted work only. When I worked onsite I did same - I had their computer for their work only and my own for everything else. One company made it clear they had spyware and there were stories of people getting spoken to because they copied source code to a usb stick, or fired because they used their laptop to play a movie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry but the truth is they can. Many vpn endpoints can validate the software you're using depending on the vpn configuration. They often can have the vpn install software on the machine it's running on - for things like security software and such. Every time you login these scripts can run updating the installed software. And yes this can include spyware as "employee monitoring software".

Now, it is typical that companies this paranoid usually issue laptops to remote employees and only allow vpn from company laptops. If you attempt to use your own personal machine it will fail. For this they normally give you a gateway to which you remote desktop to s terminal server or your on premise machine.

But it's been known for companies to not give a crap and blithely install it on personal PCs for monitoring purposes.

Once installed, many report to a cloud service and do not require the vpn.

Depending on your situation is how it gets fixed. If you can, get a company issued laptop and use that. Treat it like it's always monitoring you so close it when you're done for the day and use it for everything - office 365, teams, databases vpn etc. If you need to do personal stuff, use your pc.

If instead it's a contract position and you handle multiple clients, get them to issue you a client specific laptop (if they're big enough to have a vpn they're big enough to give contractors company laptops).

Now, the reality can be different. For example, if your company is small and you know everyone from your team mates to the CEO, chances are they're not monitoring you. If you're not sure, check out the company policies. Usually they will spell out the details. If it's a big company, or you have a middle manager on a power kick or hating working from home because they think people goof off then be warned because this is a situation where such software gets used.

My company was small. The company laptop I was issued had office 2010 installed when I got it and I know the IT director personally and he sets up all the computers. I know he doesn't install spyware as he has no manpower to monitor people. But we got acquired, and right now things are status quo, but in the future it's unknown as they may still have him set up machines or ship up machines.

I've also contracted for many companies and used those laptops strictly for contracted work only. When I worked onsite I did same - I had their computer for their work only and my own for everything else. One company made it clear they had spyware and there were stories of people getting spoken to because they copied source code to a usb stick, or fired because they used their laptop to play a movie.

Worf, thank u for such a detailed response and example of your personal experience.

It's just that many people don't even think about the fact that companies can monitor all their actions. Even if you all communicate well with each other....
 
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