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
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?
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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.
across your companies equipment.”
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
If you are concerned, I would take three steps, now:
- Use different IM accounts for your personal and business conversations.
Keep the conversations to their appropriate topics – business or personal – and
use only one at work, and the other at home. Don’t mix.
- In any case, but especially on your business account, don’t say anything
you wouldn’t want your boss to read. Or his boss. Or the entire IT
- Connect to your company’s equipment from home only when you actually need it.
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.