Staying Safe Online

Warning: there is no way to cover your movements online completely.

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, either at a local library, internet café, at a friend’s house, or at work.

On this site

If you are caught by surprise – for example if you hear someone coming home unexpectedly – you can get out of this site with a single click on the ‘Leave this site now’ button to the right of the screen. This button takes you to BBC weather site.



The following is general advice based on the questions people ask most often about staying safe online.

On the Internet in general

How can an abuser discover your internet and mobile activities?

Spyware is becoming very easy to purchase and install 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 look at the history of sites you’ve visited

You don’t have to be a computer expert to track someone’s movements online. As a rule, 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. 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 abuser uses online banking and has a saved password, then if you clear the cookies on your PC, your abuser will realise you’ve done so, because their password will no longer be saved. Also, your abuser 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 (eg cookies, passwords) may not be deleted. One 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.

Private Browsing (name varies for different browsers)

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.

Not to be confused with Private Filtering, which has another function and will not stop your abuser from seeing your trail.

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 will alert your abuser that you are concerned they are tracking you.

However, even though it helps, this mode is not entirely safe, and there are some programmes that can recover deleted files, or a determined person could still find traces of your visit if they read enough “tips” online. Again, the only safe way is to use a computer your abuser does not have access to.

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, 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.

Remember 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”.


If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they can 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 don’t 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 Keep this email secret.

General security

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.