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Workplace Browsing on Personal Hotspot


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#1 SailorPooh

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 02:51 PM

Hello All, 

 

First of all, hello to everyone. I am a newly joined member. I've always had this questions regarding browsing personal sites on a work laptop. 

 

If I turn on my mobile hotspot on my phone and connect my company laptop to it, presumable only my company laptop is connected to it, can my company's IT department see my browsing history or trace my web activities at all? No downloads were performed, simply browsing.

 

What if I also use Incognito window in Google Chrome while my company laptop is still connected to my personal hotspot?

 

Will my company be able to audit my previous activities after switching back to connecting to company wifi?

 

Please let me know if you require further clarification, but a huge thank you in advance for all of you guys. 

 

 



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#2 britechguy

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:09 PM

Your browsing history is held by your browser and crosses the various connections that were used.  If you browsed site X on your work computer at work, then later were connected to another network (which one does not matter), site X is still in your browsing history.  If you browsed site Y while on that other network, when you later connect to the work network site Y still remains a part of your browser's browsing history.  [All of this presumes you are not using private/incognito mode, which does not store browsing history at all, nor cookies, after the browsing session is closed.]

 

Generally any company owned equipment is subject to at-will inspection, either by humans or software, by the company.  This is entirely reasonable since company equipment is rightly expected to be used for company business.   Most companies are not stupid enough to nail anyone for an occasional "boredom browsing" or "while I'm waiting for . . . to complete browsing" that is not excessive.

 

If you are using incognito mode there should not be much that can be easily traced by "easy" forensic methods (as opposed to law enforcement ones) provided you are not connected to the work network.  Anything on a given network could be (and often is) monitored by the entity that owns that particular LAN, and that includes if you're in incognito mode since traffic still has to go over the network.

 

And all of the above is predicated on the company not having some kind of logging software installed that tracks what has occurred as far as web access at the machine level.  If it does this for any and all browsing then all bets are off as far as having anything be in the slightest bit private.  Such software does exist.

 

If you wish to avoid these issues you really should limit the use of company issued equipment to company business, regardless of what network you might happen to be connected to at the moment.


Edited by britechguy, 07 March 2018 - 03:11 PM.

Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

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#3 mikey11

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:19 PM

Incognito mode or not.....everything you do CAN be traced by somebody who has the knowledge to do so,

 

Are your IT staff capable of doing this?.....that I can not answer,



#4 SailorPooh

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Posted 07 March 2018 - 03:27 PM

Your browsing history is held by your browser and crosses the various connections that were used.  If you browsed site X on your work computer at work, then later were connected to another network (which one does not matter), site X is still in your browsing history.  If you browsed site Y while on that other network, when you later connect to the work network site Y still remains a part of your browser's browsing history.  [All of this presumes you are not using private/incognito mode, which does not store browsing history at all, nor cookies, after the browsing session is closed.]

 

Generally any company owned equipment is subject to at-will inspection, either by humans or software, by the company.  This is entirely reasonable since company equipment is rightly expected to be used for company business.   Most companies are not stupid enough to nail anyone for an occasional "boredom browsing" or "while I'm waiting for . . . to complete browsing" that is not excessive.

 

If you are using incognito mode there should not be much that can be easily traced by "easy" forensic methods (as opposed to law enforcement ones) provided you are not connected to the work network.  Anything on a given network could be (and often is) monitored by the entity that owns that particular LAN, and that includes if you're in incognito mode since traffic still has to go over the network.

 

And all of the above is predicated on the company not having some kind of logging software installed that tracks what has occurred as far as web access at the machine level.  If it does this for any and all browsing then all bets are off as far as having anything be in the slightest bit private.  Such software does exist.

 

If you wish to avoid these issues you really should limit the use of company issued equipment to company business, regardless of what network you might happen to be connected to at the moment.

Thank you for your detailed response. That is really helpful.


Incognito mode or not.....everything you do CAN be traced by somebody who has the knowledge to do so,

 

Are your IT staff capable of doing this?.....that I can not answer,

Thank you for your answer. That is really helpful.



#5 MarkMackerel

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Posted 14 March 2018 - 07:54 AM

One workaround would be booting up from a USB holding a version of Tails OS. This OS runs entirely from the USB I believe. You could then connect to your hotspot and then browse undetected. The machine wouldn't be connected to the work domain (assuming you use Microsoft Server). This would not be traceable at all because everything is held on your USB and even that data is wiped by Tails when you finish.



#6 Sneakycyber

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 07:55 AM

Along with the above mentioned, could you bring your own personal computer in for personal browsing?


Chad Mockensturm 

Systems and Network Engineer

Certified CompTia Network +, A +





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