Along with the rise of remote work and hybrid workplaces, monitoring software, and work collaboration options like Slack or Teams, another type of technology has begun to become mainstream: the mouse jiggler, also known as name of mouse mover.
This weird little tech solution is used to thwart certain types of micromanagement and help employees manage their time as they see fit, among other solutions. Does it work? Are jigglers allowed in the workplace? Here’s everything you need to know.
What are mouse jigglers?
Mouse jigglers are technology, usually hardware, that simulates mouse activity on a computer screen by automatically moving the cursor. This, in turn, keeps the computer active and avoids states like sleep mode or a status flag on an application changing to “away” or “idle”. This is a big problem for users whose computers are monitored.
How do people use mouse jigglers?
The increase in remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic – among other factors – has caused many companies to fear that they will not be able to physically follow employees as they used to. From installing mandatory monitoring software (“bossware”) to even hiring private investigators, employers began to go to great lengths to find a way to keep tabs on employees. Others have started using additional productivity metrics, such as active or inactive statuses on corporate communication apps, so that employees who become inactive too often suffer the consequences.
Employees often disagreed. Many believed that “time spent on the computer” had little to do with actual productivity, especially if their tasks were completed in a timely manner. Others wanted employers to realize that working from home and other work situations required a more flexible approach and that measuring active status on a computer was a very poor indicator, unfair to those juggling their balance. work/personal life. The Center for Democracy and Technology directly called the practice dangerous to the health of employees.
There was a solution to these tracking problems: mouse jigglers that simulated computer activity enough to keep status indicators active. In recent years, their use has grown rapidly among the employees monitored. Enabling these jigglers can be useful in situations such as:
- An employee has to walk away to go to the bathroom but doesn’t want the monitoring software to think he’s not working.
- A teleworking employee must take a moment to take care of a child but resumes his task afterwards.
- An employee should take the time to read a spec sheet, white paper, or manual, but does not want their status to become inactive while they do so.
- A user needs to walk away but does not want their computer to go into sleep mode, which could interfere with ongoing downloads or other important activities.
Are there different types of mouse jigglers?
Yes, there are two main types. One is a dock-like device that you plug into a power source and lay next to your mouse. When you step away from the keyboard, you place your mouse on this dock, and it will manipulate the optical sensor to make the mouse cursor move slowly across the screen.
The second type is a USB plug-in, similar to the normal type used by many wireless mice, except that it includes software to move the mouse cursor when the mouse is not in use. These tend to be more affordable and take up less space, but can be more detectable.
There are also apps that can simulate mouse movement, but these are less common.
Do they actually work?
They do what they’re supposed to do: they keep the status lights green and prevent screen savers and sleep modes from activating.
However, they cannot imitate real work. They can’t fool keystroke tracking, which some of the more invasive bossware can use, and they can’t answer calls you may receive on video conferencing apps like Zoom or WebEx.
Are mouse jigglers legal? Will I have any problems using one?
There are no laws prohibiting the use of a mouse jiggler. But a workplace that implements bossware or status flag rules may also have a problem with mouse jigglers. It could put your job at risk if someone finds out you’re using one, and at least one story of someone getting caught goes viral.
Jiggles and movers are generally difficult to detect unless you are using a work computer, which may be monitoring additional devices or additional software. This is why some people prefer dock-style mouse jigglers that can be plugged into a separate power source.
We’re still at the start of this arms race, and it’s unclear to what extent employers will pursue the technology to detect mouse jigglers and similar solutions (and the computing resources needed). For now, this is something that can vary greatly from company to company.
What are popular mouse jigglers?
Tech8 has a colorful mouse mover with dock design for $30 that might interest you. Vaydeer sells a similar model with a different design and also sells a USB version for $14 that it pretends not to be detected as an unknown USB device. If you are willing to pay a little more, Liberty Mouse Mover has a larger, fourth-generation Mouse Mover for $50 that uses a microprocessor to create random mouse movements with the ability to adjust settings.
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