Internet Safety

Computer usage can be monitored by an abuser and is impossible to completely hide. There are ways that an abuser can access your email and also find out where you have been on the internet. It is impossible to hide all your tracks.

There are many ways that a computer records everything you do on the Internet.

If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access to. You can go to a public terminal at a library, community center, or domestic violence organization. For additional information and assistance, please go to The National Center for Victims of Crime page on Cyberstalking: www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_Cyberstalking814

The information below provides some ways that you can cover some of your tracks. Please be aware that you cannot cover all your tracks. It is not possible to delete or clear all computer “footprints”.

E-Mail: If an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. Be sure to check your “Sent Mail” folder and delete any messages you do not want your abuser to see. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess.

If you send an email from a computer you share with someone, make sure that when you click on an email link, the return address on the email is yours. If you are not sure about the return address, it is safer to write an email directly from your account as you usually do and then copy and paste (or type) your email address into the address line.

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Additionally, the messages may constitute a state or federal offense. For more information on this issue, contact the District Attorney in your county or your local United States Attorney’s Office.

History/Cache Files: If an abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the Internet. You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.

After you’ve cleared your history or emptied your cache, you should visit a few “innocent” websites, like your local weather page, a website about kid’s activities, a recipe list, or any websites your abuser already knows you routinely visit. This will make it less obvious that you’ve recently cleared your History or Cache.

Here’s how to clear your History/Cache files:

Netscape: Pull down EDIT menu, select PREFERENCES. Click on NAVIGATOR and choose ‘CLEAR HISTORY’. Click on Advanced then select Cache. Click on “CLEAR DISK CACHE”.

On older versions of Netscape: Pull down OPTIONS menu. Select NETWORK OPTIONS, Select CACHE. Click on “CLEAR DISK CACHE”.

Additionally, make sure that the “USE INLINE AUTOCOMPLETE” box is NOT checked. (If checked, this function will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser.)

Internet Explorer: Open the TOOLS menu, choose INTERNET OPTIONS, then choose the GENERAL tab at the top. In the section called “Temporary Internet Files,” click on “Delete Files” to clear your cache. On the same screen, in the section called “History,” click on the “Clear History” button to erase your history list. In Internet Explorer, clearing the cache and history will automatically clear the address bar on your browser.

Additionally, make sure that the “USE INLINE AUTOCOMPLETE” box is NOT checked. (If checked, this function will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser.) Click on the “TOOLS” icon at the top of your Internet Explorer Page, then click on “INTERNET OPTIONS”, and then click on the “ADVANCED” tab. About halfway down there is a “USE AUTOCOMPLETE” box that can be checked and unchecked by clicking on it. Make sure it is unchecked.

AOL: Pull down MEMBERS menu, select PREFERENCES. Click on WWW icon. Then select ADVANCED. Click on PURGE CACHE.

Additionally, make sure that the “USE INLINE AUTOCOMPLETE” box is NOT checked. (If checked, this function will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser.)

Temp Files: In some cases, your computer will automatically save certain pages in your TEMP folder, which is usually located at c://temp or c://windows/temp. If you view any forms or other PDF files, these will probably be stored in this folder. Be sure to go to this folder and delete any files you do not want your abuser to know you viewed. Sometimes these files are automatically deleted when you turn off and re-start your computer.

NOTE: This 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 computer that your abuser cannot access. Try a local domestic violence organization, a local library, a community center, a friend’s house, or at work.

For more information and assistance, please go to The National Center for Victims of Crime page on Cyberstalking:
www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_Cyberstalking814