Cover your tracks online

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.

 

You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help from websites such as this one.

When you browse the internet on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you leave a ‘history’ trail of pages and sites you’ve visited.

It’s impossible to completely avoid being tracked online but if you’re worried about someone knowing which sites you’ve been looking at, there are some things you can do to help cover your tracks.

Deleting your browser history

You can delete the history of websites you’ve visited, but it’s important to know that if you delete your browsing history, someone else using the same device may notice.

If you share a tablet, mobile phone, laptop or computer with someone, they might notice that passwords or website addresses have disappeared from their history.

Find out how to delete your browsing history from the most commonly used browsers:
How do I clear my Internet browser history? (opens in a new window)

Private (“incognito”) browsing

When you’re browsing ‘incognito’, the internet browser won’t store cookies or record your browsing history on the computer, mobile or tablet.

This option is available on the most commonly used web browsers:
How do I turn on private browsing? (opens in a new window)

Email

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Any email you have previously sent will be stored in Sent Items. If you started an email but didn’t finish it, it might be in your Drafts folder. If you reply to any email, the original message will probably be in the body of the message – print and delete the email if you don’t want anyone to see your original message.

When you delete an item in any email program (Outlook Express, Outlook, 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 separately. Right click on items within the Deleted Items folder to delete individual items.

Toolbars

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”.

Mobile phone location

Many applications and services, especially those associated with social media sites, are “location aware” by default, and may share your location when you post, for example, if you “check in” to a physical location, or share a photo with GPS location data embedded in it.

It is particularly important if you are planning on leaving to:

  • Set the privacy options for any services you use to their highest settings, and disable the storing of location data in pictures.
  • Check for – and disable / uninstall – any apps your abuser can use to listen in on your calls, read your text messages, monitor your internet usage, or track your location.

Because the specifics for how to accomplish the above change frequently, it’s best to do an internet search that includes the name of the app, website, or operating system where you’re trying to disable tracking.

However, it’s also worth remembering that doing any of the above may alert the perpetrator to your plans, so we recommend only doing this once you are ready to leave.

Don’t forget to log out

If you use sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or any other sites that require you to log in with a password, don’t forget to log out of your account when you have finished your browsing session so no one else can log in as you.