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Covering your tracks online

Warning: there is no way to completely cover your movements online. This information can help you to cover your tracks online to an extent, but the only way to be sure is to use a completely different computer e.g. a friend's computer or one at a library.

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How can an abuser discover your internet and mobile activities?

It is very easy to see what pages someone has visited on their browser - either by looking through the browser history or by installing spyware.

Browsers save information, such as images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a history revealling the sites you have visited. Below are instructions on how to minimize the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

Warning about deleting cookies and address histories

It's important to state that there is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. For instance, if your partner uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your partner may realise you've done so because their password will no longer be saved.

Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.

On all browsers you will have a tab called 'History' or 'Favourites' where you can select individual websites to delete, although other traces of sites (e.g. cookies, passwords) may not be deleted.

One way to lower the risk of suspicious history removal is to use private browsing mode. However the safest way is to use a different computer.

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Private browsing

This tool prevents websites from saving any data about you which may leave a trail, such as cookies, history or other browser data created or saved in that session. Your history for that session will also be deleted when you close the window.

Generally private browsing can be activated in the tools bar. This will open a new window. Remember only to use this window for your browsing session, and make sure you close it: leaving this window open may alert someone to what you're doing.

Stored passwords

Your browser can store passwords to save you time, but these can also used by someone to access your account. When you first use a password on a site you will be asked if you want the browser to remember it - click no.

However, accidents happen and you may accidentally allow a password to be saved. You can delete saved passwords either as part of your history removal or separately, depending on your browser - remember that removing all passwords may be suspicious if you share a computer.

Remember search toolbars

Toolbars such as Google, Bing and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar all you need to do is click on the Google icon, and choose "Clear Search History".

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Emails

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of abuse.

Be aware of how your emails may be accessed:

  • Any email you have previously sent will be stored in 'sent items'. Go to sent items and delete emails you don't want a person to see.
  • If you started an email but didn't finish it, it might be in your 'drafts' folder. Go to the draft folder to delete it.
  • If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message - delete the email if you don't want anyone to see your original message.
  • When you delete an item in any email program it does not really delete the item - it moves the item to a folder called 'deleted items'. You have to delete the items in this folder to remove them completely.
  • If there's a risk that your abuser may know how to access your emails, it's a good idea to set up a new email account. Use a provider like Hotmail or Yahoo for an account you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you. Keep this email secret.

Passwords

If you do not use a password to log on to your computer, someone else will be able to access your email and track your internet usage. The safest way to find information on the internet, would be at a local library, a friend's house, or at work.

If you do use a password make sure it's one someone who knows you can't guess, such as your pet or birthdate, and change it regularly.

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