If you’ve ever been provided with a work laptop, it’s probably on the basis that you follow a strict set of rules and guidelines. Worse still, the laptop may be set-up to restrict access to certain websites.
Sometimes, these preventative measures can actually cause more harm than good. Your employer can never be 100% certain that all of the websites they’ve blocked you from accessing are useless.
There may be times where you’re required to do research for work, only to find yourself unable to access the information you need because the website you’re trying to view has been blocked.
As well as restricting access to certain content, you may be surprised by how much of your activity on a work laptop is being monitored. By using firewalls and monitoring software, your boss (or more likely IT admins) can track every word you type as well as your network traffic.
Why Companies Implement Web Restrictions
If you’re being given a work laptop then your boss should trust you enough to do the work that’s required and nothing else, right? Unfortunately not. Your employer has a responsibility to protect itself and the information you’re transferring.
If your boss knows you’re handling sensitive company files, the last thing they’ll want you doing is accessing websites that are vulnerable to phishing attempts or are regularly hacked.
While it’s tempting and often a lot more convenient to use a work laptop for recreational use, whether that’s playing video games or watching movies online, your boss won’t be too keen on the idea.
Unfortunately for employers, a lot of the restrictions they impose on their employees don’t work and can actually be counterproductive. Unless you’re the world’s worst worker, your company should be able to trust you to access the websites that you need to and use the internet like a mature adult – as long as everything you’re doing is legal, of course. And, if people really want to bypass web restrictions on a work laptop, they’re gonna find a way to do it.
Speaking of which, here are three of the most effective ways of doing just that.
Use a Proxy
A proxy works by connecting your device to a remote computer, similar to a VPN. The only difference is that while proxies mask your IP location, they won’t encrypt your traffic. Also, your connection won’t be as secure.
Use a VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) work in a similar way to proxy networks but offer additional levels of security as the information you’re transferring is fully encrypted.
There are hundreds of different VPNs to choose from and as they allow you to connect to servers all over the world, we’d always recommend using a VPN over a proxy – especially if you’re planning on using your work laptop to bypass Netflix’s geo-restrictions. As your VPN can be set-up on your router through your main device, your work will be none the wiser that you’re actually using one on your work laptop.
Use the Tor Network
The Tor Network, also known as the onion router, works by anonymizing your web traffic. The Tor network gets a lot of bad press as it’s used by a small number of web users looking to do bad stuff, but as it was created by the US military, it’s still a legitimate way of browsing the web unnoticed.
That said, if your work laptop already has strict restrictions installed on it, you may struggle to download new applications on it. And, if you ever get caught, the negative PR that the Tor Network carries could make it difficult to justify your reasons for installing it.
Will My Work Find Out I’ve Bypassed Their Restrictions?
In most cases, the simple answer is no, and especially if you’re using a VPN. One of the most common ways of using a VPN is by connecting to it through your router and all of the setup can be done using your out-of-office devices.
However, it’s generally accepted in most forms of law that your work has a right to know how you’re using the devices that they’ve provided, however much you might not want them to.
While accessing Netflix outside of your usual hours of employment is never going to cause anyone harm if you’re using a VPN, you should always be mindful of the potential ramifications.