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I work from home and use a work laptop with VPN connection. If I have a personal computer hooked up to the same wireless connection as my work computer (not on VPN though, BUT on a router provided by work), can they monitor what I am doing on my personal computer?

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If they have control of the router that you are using, there is the possibility that they are watching every bit of network traffic that any device connected to it is sending and receiving. The VPN is not a factor in this equation at all*. The bigger matter is the work-provided router.

Note that they cannot see what applications you are using. For instance, if you are editing a Word document, they won't be able to see that. They will only theoretically be able to see what websites and other traffic that a connected device is accessing.

The better option would be to ask them outright if they are monitoring everything at the router level.

*Note that you can pretty much guarantee that the work computer is being monitored. I'm not saying that the VPN connection can be disregarded. I'm saying that, as far as any non-work devices are concerned gaining network access by using the work-provided router comes with the possibility that all network traffic generated or received by any device is monitored.

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Sorry. I misread his question. THought it said that it was his own router, not one provided by the company. – kobaltz Dec 28 '11 at 3:45
Thank you Wesley. I just assumed they couldn't monitor at the LAN level since I don't need to connect to the VPN in order to access my ISP. However, if I understand you correctly, because no matter what device I use (work or personal) at the router level the IP's of either device doesn't create a distinction that would limit my employer from analyzing what web activity I do on my personal device, correct? – John Dec 28 '11 at 4:00
@John You're correct: no matter what device you use, as long as the traffic passes through the router, there is the potential for the traffic to be reported to your employer. I don't know if they do, however it's possible. They would be able to see the hardware MAC address of the devices, and could take into account the difference between the work machine and a personal machine. However, all of this is speculation. Just assume that all traffic is monitored regardless of device. That's certainly the easier way to do it from your employer's perspective, so assume that's what they do. – Wesley Dec 28 '11 at 4:12

On a related note, since you are using the work provided router for everything web related you are doing on your personal computer, they may very well have a claim on everything you do on that computer as well since you are using their resource (router) to do it.

If you would like to keep your stuff private, or have an interest in keeping rights in work you do for yourself, don't use their equipment for it at all.

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