How to Detect Employee Monitoring Software

One easy place to start looking for monitoring tools is your internet browser extensions or add-ons. Review the list of extensions, looking for any unfamiliar programs. Google the names to check reviews and descriptions from other users to ascertain their purpose. Anything related to monitoring, tracking time, analytics, etc could be spying on your activity.

Also check browsers on your phone if you use them for work email or accounts. Delete immediately any browser extensions you cannot confidently determine the purpose for.

Examine Your Network Connections

Monitoring tools often utilize network connections to transmit data about employee activity. Review for programs utilizing data connections that you don’t recognize or expect. Third party connections could be signs of monitoring software communicating data to outside servers.

On a Mac computer, open System Preferences>Network and click Advanced followed by the TCP/IP tab. Look for connections on unusual ports, such as port 8290, which can signify monitoring traffic. Legitimate programs usually use standardized ports like port 80 or 443.

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Inspect Background Services and Processes

In addition to network connections, monitoring tools need to run constantly in the background to capture PC, app, and internet usage. You may be able to detect monitoring programs by checking for unfamiliar processes and services.

On Windows, hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to access the Task Manager. Click “More details” if necessary to expand the view. Look carefully through the full list of Background Processes and Services for anything suspicious. Do research on unfamiliar program names here as well. Endpoint monitoring tools, keyloggers, or analytics programs may reveal their presence here.

On a Mac, open the Activity Monitor under Applications>Utilities. Check both the CPU and Memory tabs for unusual processes and services running. For deeper analysis, inspect the Network and Disk tabs for suspicious activity spikes possibly related to monitoring software too.

Review Smartphone App Permissions

For employees that utilize mobile devices for work, monitoring software can also be installed as smartphone apps. The easiest way to detect these is to look closely at what apps want access to on your phone and for what purpose.

On an iPhone, go to Settings>Privacy where you can review App access to the camera, microphone, calendar, contacts, photos, location data and more. An app wanting access, for instance, to the camera, location and network traffic for “analytics” purposes may be secretly tracking you rather than legitimate app functionality. Delete anything with unnecessary permissions.

On an Android phone go to Settings>Apps & Notifications>App Permissions. Here you can view permissions for all apps related to approximate/precise location, calendar, call logs, camera, contacts, microphone and more. Revoke access to any apps wanting information unrelated to its function.

Install Anti-Monitoring Software

Utilizing anti-monitoring and anti-spyware software can also help flag and halt programs secretly collecting data about employee digital activity. Programs like Orchid Core Agent for Enterprise can scan networks and employee devices to detect then block monitoring and provide alerts. Some VPN services like ExpressVPN also alert users if company software is found tracking traffic through VPN connections.

Ultimately companies have a right to install employee monitoring software in the workplace, but they should have clear policies in place so employees understand what is being tracked. If you discover potential unknown surveillance of your digital activity at work, you can confront managers with your evidence and ask them directly what type of monitoring is in place and why. Express any concerns over personal privacy being invaded and make sure appropriate consent is provided before extensive tracking of employees continues.


From browser extensions and background services to suspicious smartphone app permissions, there are many clues that can point to employer monitoring programs. Employees deserve transparency about any tracking of their digital activities, web usage, communications and behaviors at work.

By being proactive and vigilant against invasive surveillance technology, you can identify monitoring tools that may cross personal privacy boundaries. You can then confront employers to ensure transparent standards are met for any continued employee monitoring requiring consent. Ultimately building relationships of trust and open communication serves both employee and employer best as digital technology increasingly enters the modern workplace.