Hide And View Private Websites At Work

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 4, 2008
Updated • Dec 16, 2012

If you visit private websites, those that are not related to your work, at your workplace you have to be careful. Most companies will react on private web surfing which could lead to a kick in the butt and the search for a new job. It's not only the supervisors that have to be taken care of, coworkers can also spy and report on you.

That's were Vanishd comes into play. The service hides your private website by placing a authorized websites, for example Google Search, in front of it. Don't worry, it's not about placing a browser window over another browser window which could be done manually as well. It's about merging two browser windows and providing a link to a sneak peak window that lets you watch through the first authorized browser window to view the second.

Vanishd adds a button to the first window. Once that button is pressed it will provide access to a rectangular are that can be moved with the mouse that shows the contents of the private website.

The user can change the size of the viewing window with the mouse wheel and the viewing window will automatically disappear if he moves the mouse out of the browser window or right-click in view mode.

View mode is the default mode that allows you to view the contents of the hidden page. If you want to interact with it you need to click the left mouse button which switches to interactive mode. This mode allows you to interact with the website normally.

The officially supported browsers are Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox 2. Firefox 3 is available in experimental mode and seems to make some troubles with flash contents.

Some websites do not work with Vanishd including Google Mail or Yahoo Mail. It should also be noted that the contents of the hidden website will appear in the browser cache.

Update: Vanish does not appear to be available anymore but we have an alternative for you. It may not be as sneaky as Vanishd but it should get the job done as well. We suggest to use Google Translate to viewe those websites. You see the Google Translate header on top on every website that you visit this way at work.

Using Google Translate you may furthermore be able to access websites that would otherwise be blocked at work, as it also acts as a proxy of sorts.


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  1. David Bradley said on August 4, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    The guys at Vanishd contacted me about their new service too, I am not sure I see the point, if you’re at work and surreptitiously looking at off-limits or other non-work related sites, you’re going to get caught at some point soon. IT departments can easily watch exactly what you’re browsing in realtime and frequently do. Whether you get sacked or not will depend on how keen they are to get rid of you, but your browsing habits whether Vanishd or not will likely be used against you in a dismissal case, should it come to that.

  2. Martin said on August 4, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Jojo yes that is right. I myself would not risk it either. But it could be different if you are in school or university and don’t want that others see what you are accessing.

    Some work places also allow private surfing, or do not explicitly deny it.

  3. Jojo said on August 4, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Almost nothing is really hidden in technology. SOme employers install apps that log keystrokes and take regular screenshots, and they are not obviously named so are difficult to find unless you REALLY know what you are doing. And removing such an app, if you can find it and if you can remove it, will probably get you fired anyway.

    The network stream can also be interrogated. Even if you are on an HTTPS connection, they can still get the IP address you are going to, which might give enough evidence against you.

    As Kalle Anka & darkkosmos suggest, save your personal surfing and IM’s until you are off the company network.

  4. darkkosmos said on August 4, 2008 at 11:44 am

    This is might be stupid but I suggest you guys don’t use this sort of stuff. If you haven’t done your stuff (ie coursework/work in my case) you will be in worse off than waiting a few hours.

  5. Martin said on August 4, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Well you do not install it, that’s the advantage.

  6. Kalle Anka said on August 4, 2008 at 11:30 am

    And when the employer finds out that you have installed a program to hide private surfing… ah… thats right… you will be in much bigger trouble.

  7. Kieran said on August 4, 2008 at 11:15 am

    I use plancoin. Not as diverse but small easy and works very effectively.

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