I work at a large university and have a computer supplied by my employer.

I would like to find out whether my employer is snooping or can snoop on my files or activity on my computer. Can I find that out? How would I go about?

There is apparently some sort of remote management that the help desk can use if I call them and accept their request to log onto my computer. Program updates are also pushed out automatically.

The machine runs Mac OS X, I have admin privileges and can install any software I want.

(Note that this is a technical question, not a policy one. Also note that I understand any computer can be hacked. This question is more pointed towards assessing typical threats from my friendly sysadmins and their equally benevolent bosses.)


The short answer is yes, technically speaking. They will have another admin account on the computer that they can access. By policy, though, access to this account is (hopefully) tightly controlled and will only be accessed if necessary.

Also, there is no such thing as your computer legally speaking if it is a work issued asset. They can look at anything at anytime for the most part with little or no justification needed. It's theirs and so is all of the data you put on it.

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  • So, you are certain that they must have an admin account that they can log into? Can I see this or can it be hidden? – trmdttr Aug 26 '14 at 18:16
  • "They can look at anything at anytime for the most part with little or no justification needed": I'm no advocate, but I'm pretty sure this isn't true for every country. Here in Holland for example, the privacy of employees is very well protected - even on a company's email system and/or hardware. I think there must be a valid and solid ground for suspicion before an employee's data may be accessed. – agtoever Aug 26 '14 at 20:18

If you have admin privileges you should be able to see what processes are running. You can find out if they are spying on you by looking at the processes running on your machine.

How I would do it?
Get random snapshots of the processes running at a given point in time and analyse what's going on. When you have more snapshots you can compare then and you can compare any anomalies that you are seeing. This is assuming they use one of the tools they have installed on your machine.

If they do hide the process that might be some illegal spying depending on location.

But here's a common question: Is it worth it for them to spy on you?

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