Bluntly speaking, office privacy much like online privacy no longer exists, at least not as much as we would like to see our private information to remain private. Much of this lack of privacy is related to the way our communication systems are setup, how identity obese we have become as a society, and our lack of control over information privacy once we share them with others. As we share information with others whether at the office, online or in person, we have to assume less privacy because we have inherently given them the opportunity to distribute our information such as our friends at Facebook. The reason for less privacy as mentioned above is that we can not control others in terms of what they do with the information we share with them, and second, when we work at a company, management has full access and rights to monitor our activities and some of the companies actually warn us about monitoring our computer activities when we first login to our computers every day. While we understand the risks of excessive information sharing and the ease by which our online information can be monitored and distributed, our human nature is still in a denial state as evidenced by the increasing number of executives and politicians who get caught in digital sex scandals and corporate fraud cases because they don’t think their emails, tweets and posted pictures can be retrieved and used against them. Most importantly, online communicators fully trust the identity of the party on the other side of the Internet as if the person’s picture, name, age, occupation or even opinions are real all the time.
From an office privacy standpoint, information security groups within companies not only can view all your online and business email activities but they can also install spyware on the network and your computer to log and view all your personal activities on your computer including your keyboard activities and whatever you see on your computer screen. Such information may include your business and personal emails, passwords, bank account information, websites visited, how long you spend on each website, when you first login or log off from your computer and whatever else you do on your computer.
Some information security groups may, with or without authorization, with the knowledge of their management or not, install the software on your computer when you first join the company or can always install it when you’re home away from the office. I suspect that because humans are curious beings, information security folks and system administrators with appropriate access which they have may just be tempted to check on their colleagues without authorization although the nature of their job may just give them the inherent right to monitor anyone who uses the business systems and services.
To protect yourself against office snooping and from office privacy intrusions, whether justified or not, you should always assume less privacy and the possibility that whatever you do on your office computer or even home computer connected to the office network is viewed and may be used against you. You should even consider the possibility of cameras, microphones and security systems in some environments which can record what you say in the office kitchen or on the phone, what you do by following your every move around the office, and when you enter or exit the building offices.
One of the first things you should consider for protecting yourself against office privacy intrusions is not to use the company devices such as desktop, laptop, cell phone and office phone for personal reasons. Second, you should select business passwords such as the ones used to access the network or voicemail which are different from any other personal passwords you use for personal online activities such as e-banking. This way, your personal passwords can not be guessed by people who know your business passwords.
Office privacy is a great corporate benefit which doesn’t exist and if anyone wants to remain private in the corporate world or online, they should open their own business and disconnect from the Internet.
Read other workplace information protection articles after office privacy.