How can an abuser discover your internet and mobile activities?
There are several ways that an abuser can monitor your internet and mobile activities. Spyware is a type of computer programme that, when installed on a computer, collects data about the person using the computer, from passwords to internet sites visited.
It is becoming very easy to purchase and install Spyware on home computers and mobile phones. You may think that you are safe to access a home computer, not knowing that what you do is being tracked.
Abusers can also monitor what you have been doing online without the use of spyware. As a matter of course, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail (‘history’) that reveals the sites you have visited. To prevent an abuser from seeing what you’ve been looking at online, you must clear your browsing history after you have finished browsing the internet.
How to cover your tracks online by clearing your browsing history
There are different ways to clear your browsing history depending on what browser you are using. Choose the browser you are using from the list below and follow the instructions to clear your history.
Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9
Click on the Tools menu (if you can’t find the Tools menu, press Alt and x and it will appear). Select Internet Options. In the General page under Browser History, select the ‘Delete…’ button. Select each section by clicking on the check box: Temporary internet files; Cookies, History; Forms data and Passwords, then select the ‘Delete’ button at the bottom.
If you have a recent version of Firefox, click on the Firefox button at the very top left of your screen. Select ‘History’, then ‘Clear Recent History’. Firefox will give you the option to clear browsing history from the last hour, two hours, four hours, day, or everything. Select the one that covers the length of your browsing session and hit ‘Clear Now’.
To delete passwords, go to the Firefox button at the top left of the screen, go to Options, the Options, and click on the Security tab. Click ‘Saved Passwords’, and delete the passwords that you do not want to be remembered.
For older versions of Firefox, click on Tools and Options. Click the privacy tab, then on ‘clear your recent history’. Select the period you want to delete. Click on Details to select cookies, forms etc.
To delete passwords click on the security tab where you can view all the passwords saved when you browse the web. You can delete them here and remember not to allow Firefox to save them in the future.
You can also adjust how you want Firefox to store your data under the privacy tab.
To remove history go to History, and click Clear History.
To remove cookies go to Settings (right hand side), Preferences, Privacy tab and click Remove all Website Data (or Details to select certain sites).
To remove history on Chrome, go to Settings and select History. If you cannot find this, you can just press Ctrl and H. Click the ‘Clear All Browsing Data’ button, and select what you want to erase. You can also just remove history from the last hour, two hours, 4 hours, day, or everything. This can be very helpful, as it can enable you to remove your browser history without erasing all history. This way, an abuser will not be suspicious that all of his browsing history has also been erased.
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 will 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 Favorites where you can select individual websites to delete, although other traces of sites (eg cookies, passwords) may not be deleted. On Firefox and Chrome, you can also select to just remove the history for the last hour or two hours, which will remove your browsing history but not all the browsing history on the computer. One other way to lower the risk of suspicious history removal is to use Private browsing mode (see below). However the safest way is to use a different computer.
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.
Internet Explorer: Go to Tools, then to Safety, and select InPrivate Browsing. Your session from now on will be private and no data will be saved on your computer. To end your private browsing session, just close the browser window.
Firefox: Go to Firefox, and select Start Private Browsing. To end your private browsing session, just close the browser window.
Chrome: Go to Chrome’s settings menu and select New Incognito Window. To end your private browsing session, just close the browser window.
But remember, the only 100% safe way is to use a computer your abuser does not have access to!
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, or browse in Private Mode. 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 (see below) – remember that removing all passwords may be suspicious if you share a computer.
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’.