Keep yourself safe online
Warning: if you’re worried about someone knowing you have visited this website please read the following safety information.
Please note: the information below is for guidance only and may not completely cover your tracks. If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, friend’s house or at work.
Can an abuser discover my internet activities?
It’s becoming increasingly easy to access computer spyware and install it on a home computer. You may have never heard of cyberstalking or thought that someone may be following your online activities, yet, abusers can easily look at the history of websites you have visited.
As you use the internet, internet browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape etc. generally save information relating to the sites you visit. This includes things like images from the pages, words you may put into a search engine like Google and your History (a trail of sites and pages you have viewed). The instructions below will help you delete these items and reduce the risk of anyone seeing what you’ve been looking at.
Private Browsing feature
The first thing to look for prior to using the internet is a ‘Private Browsing’ feature. This feature in modern browsers allows you to look at the internet and not leave any signs that you’ve been there. Before you go to a site, or even if you have looked at a page or two and want to make sure you leave no evidence, look in the menus for “private browsing” or “Start private browsing” or similar phrases and select this feature, make sure you follow any on-screen prompts that appear. We’ve tested this feature in Firefox and Safari and both worked very well. Should your browser not have a private browsing feature, please use the instructions below.
Warning about deleting cookies and address histories
We must point out that there’s a risk of deleting data from your computer. If you decide to delete ‘Cookies’ for example, this may affect someone else’s use of the computer. For example if someone uses the computer for internet banking, there could be a cookie that saves their password, if you decide to clear the cookies, the password will be lost. When they next try to access the internet banking they may realise that someone has cleared the cookies and this can raise suspicion.
How do I know which browser I’m using?
If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click ‘Help’ on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using – you should then refer to the relevant instructions below.
Instructions on how to delete history & cache from your PC:
Internet Explorer 6
(Find your version by selecting Help in Internet Explorer and clicking ‘About Internet Explorer’)
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options… On the General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on Delete Cookies and then OK. Click on Delete Files, put a tick in the box labeled Delete all offline content and click OK. Under History, click on Clear History and then OK. Now look at the top of the window and click on the Content tab, select AutoComplete and finally, Clear Forms.
Internet Explorer 7
Click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. In the General page under Browser History, select the Delete… button. Either select and Delete each section: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords; or select the Delete all… button at the bottom to clear everything.
Firefox 1 (NOT /Netscape)
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to History; Saved Form Information; Cookies and Cache.
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. At private data select settings, ensure that all boxes have been selected and then click on Clear Now
Click on the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left pane, expand History then in the right area click Clear History. Next, expand Privacy and Security and select Cookies then on the button Manage Stored Cookies and in the new dialog box click Remove All Cookies. Then repeat similar for Forms and the Manage Stored Form Data button and the same for Passwords and the Manage Stored Passwords button. Aditionally, you may Manage Forms, Cookies and Passwords individually from the Tools menu – but not the temporary page Cache files.
Click on Tools and then Preferences. Click on the Advanced tab and then the History section on the left-hand side. Click the Clear button to the right of Addresses and the Empty Now button to the right of Disk cache. Opera does not have an easy wasy to clear all Cookies.
Safari (often used on Apple Macs)
Resetting Safari clears the history, empties the cache, clears the Downloads window, and removes all cookies. It also removes any saved user names and passwords or other AutoFill data and clears Google/Yahoo search entries. To do this go to the Safari menu at top left hand screen. Choose Reset Safari, and click Reset.
Deleting your browsing history:
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is known as a ‘history’. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Crtl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that say www.eastayrshirewomensaid.org.uk right click and choose Delete. For Safari, select History at top of the screen and choose “Clear History”
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse.
Be aware of how records of your emails can 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 dont want anyone to see your original message.
- When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird etc) it does not really delete the item – it moves the item to a folder called Deleted Items. You have to delete the items in Deleted Items 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, for example firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep this email secret.
Toolbars such as Google, AOL 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”.
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.