Covering your tracks online
If you are worried about someone knowing what websites you have visited, please read our online safety advice.
How can an abuser discover your internet activities?
Internet browsers save information when you use the internet. This includes images from websites you have visited, anything you've typed into search engines, and a list of websites you have visited. This is called your internet history. Please follow the instructions below to minimize the chances of someone finding out what websites you have visited.
If you know what browser you are using, then skip to the relevant browser instructions below. If you do not know the type of browser you are using, click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, and will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, About Google Chrome or something similar. This will tell you what brower you are using.
All leading web browsers have a “private browsing” mode. This doesn't stop online services from seeing your activity, but it means you won’t leave any website history on your computer so it’s always a useful first step to take.
Internet Explorer: Go to Safety – Tools – “InPrivate Browsing”.
Firefox: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines – “New Private Window”.
Google Chrome: Click the Menu button with three horizontal lines and select “New Incognito Window”.
Similar options can be found in Opera and Safari.
It is also best to double check that nothing has been stored by following the steps below.
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 labelled 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.
Click on Tools and then Options, then click on Privacy. Click on the Clear button next to Cache and Saved Form Information.
Deleting your browsing history
Internet browsers also keep a record of all the web pages you visit. This is called a ‘history’. To delete history for Internet Explorer and Firefox hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard, then press the H key (Ctrl, Alt and H for Opera). Find any entries that you want to delete, right click and choose Delete.
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 see your internet activty. All of the above information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites.
The safest way to find information on the internet would be at a local library, a friend’s house, or at work.
Find support and more information about online and digital abuse on the Women's Aid website
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