Office computers are the property of the company you work for. According to an article in the current issue of PCWorld magazine, studies show that nearly two-thirds of all small and medium sized companies monitor the activities of their computers. It also reports that one out of four companies have fired people for “Net related misdeeds.”
What this means is that it is possible for your employer to see all your incoming and outgoing e-mails as well as maintain a history of all websites visited. Not only are they concerned about you wasting time shopping, checking the weather, etc which impacts productivity, but the possible loss of proprietary information. Many companies have established elaborate controls that forbid downloading of programs and games.
Companies have the capacity to gather information if they are displeased with an employee or they feel that they are involved in activities detrimental to the organization. It is not uncommon to find employees conducting job searches in the office or texting disparaging remarks about their supervisors or other co-workers.
The safest course of action is to conduct all non-related company business on your own computer. You will never know whether or not you are the target of company scrutiny.
Oh, one last thing. If the company has given you a cell phone or blackberry, remember it is also their property. Buy your own cell phone for personal use.