The 6 Ways To Hide Internet Activity From Employers (A Complete Guide)

Since the dawn of time, most workplaces haven’t been pleasant environments. Employers often think they own us and like to control every step that we make. It’s only natural for them to control what we do on our or their computers as well.  

But if we can’t stop employers and companies from spying on us, can we at least hide our internet activity from them?

In general, if you’re using your work’s computer, the best bet to hide your internet activity from your employer is to use a VPN browser extension coupled with Incognito Mode in browser of your choice. 

This method will allow you to install a VPN (to encrypt your traffic) without admin permissions and the incognito mode will not save your browsing history locally on the device. 

Keep reading to find out why employers track your activity online and what other steps you can implement to hide your internet activity from companies. There’s always a solution, you just have to keep trying until you succeed. 

Why Employers Monitor Employee Activity?

why employers monitor employee activity

Unfortunately, most employers and companies don’t have a good track record of paying a living wage, making their workplace feel like a good place to be in, or of giving you privacy.

Although many are still working from home and will continue to do so, that hasn’t stopped employers from making your life harder, on the contrary. 

Many companies have installed trackers, spyware, or have unleashed their IT departments to collect data from anyone in the company (except the top brass, of course). 

But why do they feel the need to do it? Do they really need to know what we’re doing at all times while at work? Wouldn’t it be better for worker morale and satisfaction to have some leeway?

READ ALSO: Is Coffee Shop WiFi Safe? (10 Tips For Working From Coffee Shop)

Lack of Trust

Employers have always been at odds with employees and there was never a sense of trust between the two. I have always worked under the assumption that I’m watched and tracked. 

Even while working in a warehouse many years ago, we all knew where the cameras are and where the blind spots were. We had to show the security guard what we had on us when entering and the same when going out or home. 

Basically, nothing changed when moving to the office. CCTV and tracking software were normal. The only thing was, I didn’t really care anymore. When you have nothing to lose, that’s when you’re the most dangerous to them.

No wonder so many people didn’t return to their lousy jobs after the pandemic. No one likes to work under constant pressure and watchful eye from their employers.

Regulations

Some companies and government institutions are required to monitor all the internal networks and communications because they are dealing with sensitive information that shouldn’t be available to the general public. 

They might also be doing a lot of shady stuff that they don’t want others to know about and that would get them in trouble if the information got out. 

Productivity

In general, we are more productive than ever and there are even calls for 4-day workweeks. However, companies don’t seem to think so and they want to squeeze as much juice as they can from us. 

If they notice that you’re not doing your job 100%, you could get into trouble. Of course, no one can give a hundred percent all the time and the top officials of these companies certainly can’t and don’t. 

READ ALSO: Can Hotels See What You Do On WiFi? (VPN On Hotel WiFi)

How To Hide Internet Activity From Employers?

office

Unfortunately, if you’re using a work computer, whether at home or at work, there’s not much you can do to hide your internet activity. You could also get in trouble if you try to use software like VPN to hide your internet history or activity. 

That’s because your employer will have remote access to your (their) device whenever they fancy. Also, your boss, IT staff, or HR managers can check your computer after you leave work (if you work in an office). 

And lastly, your organization could place tracking software on your computer, phone, tablet, etc. Still, let’s explore what are some of the actions we can take when we’re using work or personal devices to access the internet. 

1. Browse on your smartphone

own smartphone

The single easiest way to do whatever the hell you want and not raise any red flags from your boss is to use your personal phone and mobile data. Of course, you still have to worry about cameras that can pick up what you’re doing and even see what’s on your screen. 

But in areas with less footfall and without cameras, using your smartphone to browse the internet is much better than using the work computer to access the internet.

You still might get in trouble if your supervisor sees you a couple of times too many if you aren’t allowed to use it at work.  

Still, browsing on a personal phone without connecting to work WiFi is the ultimate privacy shield. At least from your employer.

2. Use TeamViewer

use teamviewer

Using a TeamViewer to remote access your home computer comes with a few challenges. First of all, you’ll have to install it on both your work and home computers. 

The connection between the two will be encrypted and all that an admin can see is that you’re using a private network. This might raise some red flags.  

Nevertheless, if you can install software on your work computer, this is a solid way of hiding internet activity from your company. 

READ ALSO: Why Are VPNs So Popular (The 10 Reasons)

3. Learn keyboard shortcuts

keyboard shortcuts

Pressing one or two keys on your keyboard is usually much faster than clicking X to close a website or app, with a mouse. 

By learning how to switch between tabs or how to close a window with your keyboard, you’ll be able to stay one step ahead of your boss that might be passing by your computer screen. 

The downside is that admins can still see exactly which websites you’ve visited. Anyway, here are the few most important keyboard shortcuts:

ActionmacOSWindows
Close the tabCmd + WCtrl + W
Minimize open windowsCmd + F3Win + D
Switch between appsCmd + TabAlt + Tab

4. Disguise websites

If you’re too slow at closing your tabs or windows, you can make websites look inconspicuous, i.e., ugly and ordinary looking. 

A browser extension called Decreased Productivity will hide any images and other flashy stuff from the website that might draw attention from onlookers. The photos will only show if you move your pointer over them. 

Our website with and without the Decreased Productivity extension

You might have guessed it, but this will only make websites look plain to anyone looking at your screen. Admins and others will still see what URLs you’ve visited. 

And then there’s the MSOutlookKit. This website makes Reddit look like Microsoft Outlook and can fool people into thinking that you’re checking your email but in fact you’re on Reddit. 

This is Reddit? It is with MSOutlookKit

5. Use Incognito Mode

incognito mode

Your browser’s incognito mode isn’t an be all and end all solution for privacy that most people think it is. It actually got Google into trouble and they’re facing a class action lawsuit for arguably not explaining to users well enough what it does. 

However, the incognito mode, or whatever it’s called in your browser, has its uses. It will hide your:

  • Browsing and search history
  • Cookies and site data
  • Information entered in forms

But, your browsing activity might still be evident to:

  • Websites you visit
  • Your employer, school, or other institutions
  • Your internet service provider (ISP)

Incognito mode will only hide your browsing history if they don’t use software to check traffic on their network or if they’re checking internet usage manually. 

READ MORE: Can You Be Tracked In Incognito Mode? (10 Tips For Browsing Privacy)

6. Use a VPN

use a vpn

Using a VPN is the best way to hide internet activity from employers, companies that you work for, and other institutions and third parties. When you use a VPN, the internet traffic goes through a tunnel that encrypts all the data between your device and a website.

The person that’s monitoring the company network can’t see what you’re doing online or what websites you’re visiting. All they can conclude is that you’re using a VPN to access the internet. And that’s only if they are bothered enough to check.    

However, some companies have a strict no-VPN policy and won’t allow you to use a VPN that isn’t their own. In this case, it might be too risky to install a VPN on the computer. 

If you do feel frisky, there are VPN browser extensions that don’t need permissions to be installed. You can simply add it to your browser and use it to access websites in private. 

All the major VPN providers offer browser extensions for at least Chrome and Firefox. But which VPN should you choose? What’s the most reliable and affordable option? Let’s go through a few of our recommended VPNs, shall we?

NordVPN 

nordvpn
  • Almost 6,000 servers in 60 countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • Quick Connect
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For up to six devices
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

NordVPN is one of the best, when we talk about privacy. The service uses 256-AES encryption over a reliable OpenVPN protocol. Most importantly, NordVPN is based in Panama, a country with no data retention laws. The company also has a strict no-logs policy.

NordVPN encrypts your data by routing it through a tunnel between your computer and the VPN’s remote servers. VPNs therefore, use the IP address of the remote server and hide your real IP address to make it impossible to track your activity.

This well-known VPN has one of the fastest VPN Chrome extensions on the market. It always provides us with super-fast speeds so that websites load instantly and HD videos don’t buffer all the time.

Read more in our NordVPN review.

Surfshark 

surfshark
  • Over 3,200 servers worldwide
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited device connections
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

Surfshark is the best budget-friendly VPN out there. It has apps for all sorts of operating systems and it allows you to connect to an unlimited number of devices with a single plan.

Surfshark offers military-grade 256-AES encryption, forward secrecy (assures that session keys won’t be compromised), and leak protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC. There’s also an active kill switch for all of its apps to prevent your IP address from being exposed to third parties. 

The company itself is based in British Virgin Islands and also has a strict no-logs policy. Additional security characteristics include CleanWeb (adblocker) and Whitelister (for split tunneling).

Find out more about this VPN in our Surfshark review

ExpressVPN

expressvpn
  • Almost 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For up to 5 devices
  • Works in China and the UAE
  • 24/7 live chat

Unlike Surfshark and NordVPN, ExpressVPN does keep minimal logs, but no data that could identify its users. It also uses its own DNS servers, making your internet requests invisible to third parties. There’s also a built-in protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks.

ExpressVPN runs on RAM-only servers, so your data is completely wiped every time a server reboots. It even has an onion site for accessing the Tor browser and allows torrenting on all servers. 

Although ExpressVPN costs a bit more than some other major VPN providers, it has a lot going for it when it comes to privacy and security. With apps for macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS, plus router support. Install it on up to 5 devices.

Read more about the service in our ExpressVPN review

How Does VPN Hide Traffic From Employers?

To conclude, one of your best options is to use a VPN app or browser extension to hide internet activity from your employer or company. A VPN will mask your IP address and encrypt all your internet activity including what you’re browsing and searching for. 

Your employer, or any third party for that matter, will only be able to see that you’re using a VPN and nothing more. If they aren’t actively checking their network connections, you should be fine, but if they are and they don’t allow VPNs, then you’re better off just using a smartphone and mobile data to stay private. 

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