Recently, we’ve heard from folks concerned about the possibility of their employer being able to monitor their work-provided phone or laptop. The short answer is yes, your employer can monitor you through nearly any device they provide you (laptop, phone, etc.). While the law is still developing in this area (especially when an employee brings their own device to work), one way to protect your privacy is to be aware of whether or not your device is being monitored.
If your employer issues you an iPhone or iPad, there’s a good chance that it has Supervised Mode enabled—a mode introduced by Apple in iOS 5 that allows your company more control over their devices and can restrict features such as keyboard shortcuts, Messages and changing passcodes. You can see all the features of Supervision and what kinds of information are visible to employers on Apple’s support page.
You can quickly check to see if your device is Supervised by opening up the Settings app. On iOS 10 and newer devices, above your name at the top of the screen there will be text saying, “this iPhone is supervised and managed by”. On iOS 9 and earlier devices, the Supervision message is found in Settings > General > About.
You can also see what information your employer has access to by checking on the profile that your employer has installed for you. By navigating to Settings > General > Profiles & Device Management, you can view your profile (if any) and what types of changes your employer has made to the default settings of your device.
Apple isn’t the only provider of these types of monitoring tools, either. Google/Android also provides employers tools to remotely monitor and manage their employee’s devices. If your business runs on the Google suite of office web applications and you’ve been provided a company phone or laptop, there’s a good chance some remote management features are already enabled. If so, your employer will be able to configure any settings on the device, monitor compliance with internal policies and remotely track or wipe your device. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to check to see if an android device is being managed, but you should ask your employer for more information on the company policy around managed mobile devices.
If you have a story about your employer monitoring your mobile devices, please share it with us!