Company VPN: What Can They See?
Security of systems and their functionality is a very serious concern and has continued to grow in priority in the global business and operations spaces. Individuals and organizations alike look for ways to secure or conceal their identity and maintain integrity in information sourcing through the use of virtual private networks (VPN).
If you are interested in knowing what your company or organization can see on your end when you are making use of their VPN, then read on as we will expose what you need to know to you regarding the subject of VPNs and what they can see or not see. When using your company VPN there is a possibility that your company can see and access what you do. This is because your traffic and query requests send and return through the VPN network of the company.
What is a Company VPN?
A company VPN is a virtual private network, owned by a particular business entity, corporation, etc. Company VPN networks are used to give members of the organization secure and remote access to the organization’s private data and computer systems. Company virtual private networks are also used to provide members with access to the internet and their files within the organization even when such employees are not at the organization’s offices or premises.
Company virtual private networks allow remote employees of the company to connect to the company’s network through the encrypted access point provided by the company VPN. Company VPNs are usually built on top of an existing public network or a service provider’s network most of the time.
Employees usually connect to the company VPN using their own devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc., to connect to the company’s VPN using the login password and username through the client software.
When connected employees can access the organization’s resources as if they were physically at the office. Most companies that operate company VPN most of the time own and operate all of the hardware and software needed to run a VPN successfully.
When employees connect to their employer company VPN, their computer is assigned an IP address that is on the same subnet as other computers on the corporate network.
Even though their computer is connected to the Internet through home networks and ISP, their computer still appears as if it’s on their company’s network because it has been assigned an IP address that is routed through the company VPN. Such moves by organizations enable them to monitor all network traffic that goes through their network, including traffic generated by remote users who are connected via VPN.
Can Company VPN See What Employees Are Doing?
Yes, your company can see everything you do on the VPN network, this is because all your data gets sent through the VPN and to the final destination of your query. Your company can see your website visits, sent and received files, web browser type and usage, and many more things through the company VPN that you use because they own the VPN server and database most of the time.
To get a hold of why your company can see what you’re doing on the company VPN. It is important to understand how VPN networks work because that is what allows the company to track your traffic and see your operations.
VPNs usually encrypt the data being transmitted between your computer and the VPN software client which is your company, to protect the data from prying eyes. But these data are then decrypted when they get to the VPN server, which is also run and operated by your company and this is where they can see and track what you’re doing on the VPN network even if you’re not in the office. The data is decrypted when it gets to the server so that your search query to the internet will be fulfilled.
What Can Company VPN See From Employees?
The things that your company can see when you are connected to the company VPN are numerous simply put your company can see almost everything you do while connected to the company VPN. Some of such things visible to the company when you are connected to the company VPN with a work device or not include:
- Your Emails
- Your Passwords
- Your Contacts
- Your Web search History
- Your Downloaded file
- Your Emails
Privacy is a right in law As contained in the constitution of several countries globally but this law gets violated severally and severely when employees are made to connect and browse and access resources on the internet using a company VPN. When such is done and the employee needs to respond to their emails while at work the organization’s VPN servers log the details of the personal email and this is not supposed to be the case.
Note that this practice of monitoring your email through the company VPN may not always be done but the fact that the company has access to your email through its VPN is not a good sign for you.
Passwords are one of the most important things to keep safe be it personal passwords or company work-related passwords. It is common knowledge that people generally use the same or very similar passwords for their accounts on several platforms. This is usually because it’s easier for such people to remember. But not that such practice is not very good.
With your company VPN serving as your access link all your passwords, both personal and work are exposed to the company. This is not good because it puts you at risk and disadvantage in any situation where a data breach occurred at the organization such personal passwords become known to the hackers
Your contacts are not spared from the prying eyes and track of your company when you are using the company VPN. Contacts on your device that do not have anything to do with your company get logged by the company VPN when you connect to the company VPN. These contacts logging is another privacy breach carried out by organizations who demand that their employee must log on to the company VPN.
Your Web search History
Your web search history is the record of all your searches on the internet, this is the comments thing seen tracked and logged by many companies. This is another violation of employees’ right to privacy but this right is impeded when such employees are compulsorily made to work with their company VPN. Web search history is visible completely to your company because the data query sent by browsers passes through the VPN tunnel of the company and then the result of your search as an employee will also pass through the company website.
Your Downloaded file
When using the company VPN as an employee of a company that has mandated all staff to tunnel all traffic through the VPN the company can see any downloads you make even if after downloading the file you delete it the company would have a lot of that download on the server. You will most likely get into trouble with such actions if the downloaded file is not a work-related file. Therefore you need to be diligent and careful with what files you download using your workplace company VPN.
Can Company See What You Do On VPN
A VPN (a virtual private network) can encrypt all the traffic flowing to and from your device and tunnel it through an intermediary server in a location of your choosing. This has several practical applications, such as allowing you to access region-locked content or keep your browsing history private.
But when it comes to workplace VPNs, there’s usually a catch: Your employer can see what you do on its servers, even if it can’t see your traffic on the public internet outside of them.
So yes, you should be able to use a VPN at work. But whether you should is another matter entirely. VPN stands for a virtual private network. It is a kind of technology that allows the user to create an encrypted connection via another network. It is done over a public network, usually the Internet. The VPN hides your data and IP address so you can browse the web privately.
So what does it mean? When using a VPN, all your traffic is routed through a private tunnel that cannot be accessed by anyone else but you. So no one including your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will be able to see what websites you are visiting or what kind of data you are sending and receiving, not even your company.
The only drawback of such technology is that the speed becomes lower than usual because the data has to travel through more connections when being rerouted via the VPN server. However, if you have a strong Internet connection, you won’t even notice this difference.
It is recommended to use VPN when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots to protect sensitive information from interception by hackers.
Can Company VPN Be Tracked
The only way to be 100% certain that your traffic cannot be monitored is to remove your ISP from the traffic path. This can be done by putting your computer on a VLAN separate from the one used by your ISP, or by using an ISP that does not monitor or log traffic.
I do not think you can get this level of assurance with an L2TP/IPSec VPN alone. This protocol is based on the ESP protocol which provides confidentiality, integrity, and authentication, but only at a layer below IP.
To use L2TP/IPSec you must have an L2TP server. If this is inside your company’s network then it has a clear view of all traffic flowing through it and can monitor anything it likes. If the server is outside your company then you have no assurances that it is not being monitored, and if anyone else gains access to it they will also gain access to all of its network traffic.
The fact that you mention “get caught” suggests that you want to hide some kind of illegal activity from your employer. I would advise against doing this because, in addition to any legal consequences, two things could happen if you do:
- You might get caught;
- You may become an expert on hiding
A company VPN gives the employer access to their employee’s traffic, so they can snoop on content and monitor behavior. Therefore employees need to be mindful of the information they put out and the websites they visit, while on their company VPN network. Employees need to also remember that a company VPN is not the same thing as a consumer VPN or a replacement for a consumer VPN, and should proceed with caution when on their company VPN. Also as an employee of a company that requires employees to use the company VPN never get carried away, and always have in mind that your company might just be tracking your online activity.