Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
I work from home using a cable broadband service I pay for. I connect to my company's server through a proxy server for email, etc. I use AIM for business IMing. I recently received a notice from my company that all instant messaging conversations are being monitored. I am wondering if it is possible for my company to archive my AIM conversations when I am at home using my own cable provider, or if they do in fact have archiving capability if that would apply only to on-site employees. I am concerned because not all of my IM conversations are work related as I use my screen name for both business and personal conversations.
Hey, at least they told you. Most companies that do monitor bury that fact in their employee handbooks, if they even mention it at all.
But can they monitor your IMing at home?
It really boils down to knowing whether the IM conversation is traveling across your companies equipment. Obviously when you are at work, by definition it is. But when you're at home, it's possible that it still is, depending on what else you are doing.
You mentioned that you connect through your company's server for email. Well, depending on what that really means, it's quite possible that your IM conversation is traveling over the company's equipment. For example if your company has you establish a VPN or Virtual Private Network connection to the corporate network in order to access your email, while you have that VPN connection established then it's quite possible that your IM conversation is hitting the corporate servers, and possibly being logged.
On the other hand, if all you are doing is POP3 mail, or even better, web mail provided by your corporation, then it's highly unlikely that you have a problem.
If you are concerned, I would take three steps, now:
It's a fine line between privacy and responsibility in any case, but the bottom line is that when using your company's equipment they have every right to examine all the data thereon including your email, IM conversations, documents, browsing history and whatever else you might have.
It's something that's worth remembering next time you're surfing the net over your lunch break.
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