The rise of remote work over the last several years has blurred some lines when it comes to downtime vs. work time. While that can be beneficial to the employee in some regards, allowing folks working from home to do things like walk their dogs, do laundry, or even tackle personal projects on company time, a TikTok making the rounds is explaining why it’s so important to make sure to keep one particular boundary well intact.
For those who receive a work computer as part of their work-from-home setup, keeping that strictly for business use—and being very aware of what you might be using it for—is imperative.
Information technology (IT) professional @scarlettsunders took the time to explain why this is in a recent video.
“I work for a tech company called a managed service provider,” he says in a video that was viewed 111,000 times. “What that is is that we’re an IT company hired by your company to manage all of your IT.”
He goes on to explain they immediately install a remote management monitoring tool, which allows them to keep tabs on each computer for any issues and access these computers remotely—even without the user knowing it’s happening.
“We have backend access to your computer through command prompt as well, so we can navigate without using a UI [user interface],” he continues. “These things can be very in depth and alert us on different things going on. Not to mention, if you’re using a VPN to work, we log a lot of that traffic.”
So not only is it possible for them to hop onto a computer with these tools installed and dig around at any time, but they may also be able to see the websites a person has been browsing without even having to do that much, @scarlettsunders says.
To some viewers, the reality that what one does on a work computer, or through a work VPN, might not be private comes as old news.
“I won’t even connect my phone to work WiFi, my stuff stays mine,” @okina_oka wrote.
“It’s sad that this even needs to be explained,” @anthony__64 added. “I always keep my stuff separate.”
Several viewers chimed in that doing such a thing would be illegal in countries like the U.K. and parts of Canada due to privacy laws, but that’s not actually true. Both countries allow monitoring of how employees use their computers, although certain restrictions may be in place regarding transparency.
In other words, it’s best to err on the side of caution by keeping work and play separate if you don’t want your employers to know what you’re getting up to in your personal life.
The Daily Dot has reached out to @scarlettsunders via TikTok comment.