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Covering Your Tracks

If you are in an abusive relationship and your abuser has access to your computer or internet enabled mobile phone, it's important that you take precautionary steps to hide your internet activities. The following steps will help you to cover your tracks but the safest way to access the internet is at a local library, a community centre, at a friend or relative's house or at work.

Email

If an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you select a password they will not be able to guess.

It's a good idea to set up a new email account. Use a provider like Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail for an account you can access from anywhere, and use a name that is not recognisable as you.

Internet via a computer

You can take the following steps to hide your internet activity on a computer

1. Open a private browsing window (for Internet Explorer 8 only)

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InPrivate Browsing helps prevent Internet Explorer 8 from storing data about your browsing session. This includes cookies, temporary Internet files, history, and other information. Toolbars and extensions are disabled by default.

To activate InPrivate Browsing, click on the ‘Safety’ dropdown menu near the top right of your screen (you should see ‘Page’ and ‘Tools’ to either side). Select ‘InPrivate Browsing’ from the dropdown list.

Alternatively, you can activate InPrivate Browsing by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P anywhere within Internet Explorer 8.

Please note – if the browser window you are using does not have the below image in the address bar – you are not using InPrivate Browsing.

InPrivate browsing image

To turn off InPrivate Browsing, close your browser window.

2. Delete insecure information created by your web browser.

Your web browser creates many files and saves certain information which can allow your abuser to discover your internet activities. You can attempt to delete these by doing the following:
Find your browser in the list below, click on the link and follow the web browser cleanup guide. This will give you directions on how to delete your web browser history, cache, cookies and form data.

Internet Explorer 8 for Windows

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  1. Click on the ‘Safety’ dropdown menu near the top right of your screen (you should see ‘Page’ and ‘Tools’ to either side). Select ‘Delete Browsing History’.
  2. Tick the ‘Temporary Internet files’, ‘Cookies’ and ‘History’ boxes, and un-tick the ‘Preserve Favourites website data’ box. If you have been using InPrivate Browsing – you may also want to select ‘InPrivate Filtering data’.
  3. If you have entered information into an online form, or entered in a password, you may also want to remove this information (but be aware that selecting the ‘Form data’ and ‘Passwords’ boxes will delete all saved passwords and form information, e.g. hotmail / googlemail saved passwords).
  4. Once you have completed the above steps, press ‘Delete’ and wait for the ‘Delete Browsing History’ progress bar to finish.
  5. Your Internet Explorer 8 browsing history should now be deleted.

Internet Explorer 6 for Windows

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  1. Choose Internet Options from the Tools menu (for older versions of Internet Explorer, it may be in the View menu).
  2. In the Internet Options window, under the General tab, click the Clear History button.
  3. Click on the Advanced tab, scroll down to the Browsing section and UNCHECK Use inline AutoComplete.
  4. Click the OK button.
  5. Go to Step Two: Delete Your Browser Cache

In order to delete your browser cache, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Internet Options from the Tools menu (for older versions of Internet Explorer, it may be in the View menu).
  2. In the Internet Options window, under the General tab, click the Delete Files button.
  3. In the confirmation dialog that pops up, check Delete all offline content and click OK.
  4. In the Internet Options window, click the OK button.
  5. Go to Step Three: Delete Your Browser Cookies

In order to delete your browser cookies, follow these steps:

  1. 1. Choose Internet Options from the Tools menu (for older versions of Internet Explorer, it may be in the View menu).
  2. In the Internet Options window, under the General tab, click the Delete Cookies button. 
  3. In the Delete Cookies dialog that pops up, click OK. 
  4. In the Internet Options window, click the OK button.
  5. Go to Step Four: Delete Your Web Form Data

In order to delete your web form data, follow these steps:

  1. 1. Choose Internet Options from the Tools menu (for older versions of Internet Explorer, it may be in the View menu).
  2. In the Internet Options window, under the Content tab, click the Delete Cookies button.
  3. In the AutoComplete Settings window, click Clear Forms. 
  4. In the confirmation window that pops up, click the OK button.
  5. In the AutoComplete Settings window, click the OK button.
  6. In the Internet Options window, click the OK button.

Internet Explorer for Apple Macintosh

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  1. Choose Preferences from the Explorer menu.
  2. In the Internet Explorer Preferences window, click the word Advanced in the Web Browser category. Then hit the Clear History and Empty Now buttons. 
  3. Click the word Cookies in the Receiving Files category. Then select all the cookies in the list by hitting apple-A (hold down the Apple key and the A key at the same time) and hit the Delete button. 
  4. Click the words Forms AutoComplete in the Forms AutoFill category. Then select all the items in the list by hitting apple-A (hold down the Apple key and the A key at the same time) and hit the Delete button.
  5. Then click the OK button to close the Internet Explorer Preferences window.
  6. Choose Download Manager from the Window menu. 
  7. Select all the items in the list by hitting apple-A (hold down the Apple key and the A key at the same time) and hit apple-Backspace (hold down the Apple key and the Backspace key at the same time) on your keyboard to delete all the items.
    Then close the Download Manager window.

Firefox 2.+ for Windows and Apple Macintosh

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  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. (On Macintosh, select Preferences from the Firefox menu.)
  2. In the Options window, click the Privacy lock icon on the left side.
  3. Next to the word History, click on the Clear button.
  4. Next to the word Cache, click on the Clear button.
  5. Next to the word Cookies, click on the Clear button.
  6. Next to the words Saved Form Information, click on the Clear button.
  7. Next to the words Download Manager History, click on the Clear button.
  8. Click the OK button.

Firefox 3.5 for Windows and Apple Macintosh

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  1. Click onto ‘History’ in the menu at the top of the screen, then ‘Show All History’
  2. Either delete all of the appropriate day’s internet browsing history (by right-clicking on a day and selecting ‘delete’), or
  3. Double click on a day / period to open up more detailed information, and right-click to select individual entries for deletion.

Google Chrome for Windows

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  1. Click on the ‘spanner’ icon in the top right hand corner of Google Chrome’s window.
  2. In the window that opens, tick all options that you wish to remove (e.g. browsing history, download history, cache, cookies and saved form data).
  3. Select the period you would like to remove data from the ‘Clear data from this period’ drop down menu.
  4. Press ‘Clear Browsing Data’, and wait for Google to clear your history. After this step, the process is finished.

To delete history day by day:

  1. Click on the ‘spanner’ icon in the top left hand corner and select ‘ History’ (or press Ctrl+H on your keyboard).
  2. Chose the day you would like to delete history for – and select ‘Delete history for this day’.
  3. Confirm you would like to delete history for your chosen day by pressing ‘OK’ in the window that opens. After this step, either repeat for other days, or finish.

Netscape 4 for Windows

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  1. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu.
  2. In the Preferences window, click on the word Navigator, then click on the Clear History button and the Clear Location Bar button.
  3. Click on the box next to the word Advanced. This should display several more choices. Then, click on the word Cache and click on the Clear Memory Cache button and the Clear Disk Cache button. 
  4. Next, click on the word Advanced. You should then see a section labelled Cookies on the right side of the Preferences window. If it is set to Accept All Cookies or Accept only cookies that get sent back to the originating server, change the setting to Disable Cookies. Remember what the original setting was, because you will need to change it back to that setting in the next step.
  5. Once you have set it to Disable Cookies, click the OK button to close the Preferences window.
  6. Next re-open the Preferences window (by choosing Preferences… form the Edit menu, as in step 1 above), click on the word Advanced again, and set the Cookies preference to what it was before.
  7. If it was set to Disable Cookies in the first place, you can ignore this step.
  8. Then click the OK button to close the Preferences window.

Netscape 6 for Windows

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In order to delete your browser history, cache, cookies, web form data and download history, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu.
  2. In the Preferences window, click the arrow next to the word Navigator and click on the word History. Then click on the Clear History button and the Clear Location Bar button. 
  3. Click the arrow next to the word Advanced and click on the word Cache. Then click on the Clear Memory Cache and Clear Disk Cache buttons.
  4. Click the arrow next to the words Privacy & Security and click on the word Cookies. Then click on the View Stored Cookies button.
  5. In the Cookie Manager window, click on the Remove All Cookies button. Then click the Close button. 
  6. In the Preferences window, click on the word Forms (under Privacy & Security). Then click on the View Stored Form Data button. 
  7. In the Form Manager window, click on the arrow next to Other Saved Information. Then click the word URL-Specific.
    Next, you must manually delete all values which are attached to any sensitive sites. So, if you see a listing which has www.amazon.co.uk in the URL field, you may not need to delete that. But, if the listing contains “www.talk2someone.org” in the URL field, you probably want to delete that line.
    In order to delete the line, just click in the Value field and delete all the text there.
  8. The field may contain more information. Click the arrow on the far right side of the field. If other lines of information are displayed, select each line and delete the text for that line.
    Once you have deleted all values for that field, when you click on the arrow on the right side of the field, you should see only a check mark in the pop-up menu.
  9. You may need to delete other information in the Form Manager. You should look through all the categories listed in the box on the left side of the window (Primary Contact, Shipping, Billing and Other Saved Information) and look for anything which might seem suspicious. Then, delete those items by selecting the text in the field on the right and deleting that text.
    These fields may also have more information. Remember to click on the arrow on the right side of the field and delete all suspicious information.
    When you are done, click OK in the Form Manager window.
  10. In the Preferences window, click on the View Sites button. 
  11. In the Form Manager window, click on the Forms Never Saved tab and then click on the Remove All button.
    You may also need to click on the Forms Never Previewed tab and click on the Remove All button again.
  12. In the Preferences window, click the OK button to close the window.

Netscape 7 for Windows

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In order to delete your browser history, cache, cookies, web form data and download history, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu.
  2. In the Preferences window, click the arrow next to the word Navigator and click on the word History. Then click on the Clear History button and the Clear Location Bar button.
  3. Click the arrow next to the word Advanced and click on the word Cache. Then click on the Clear Cache button.
  4. Click the arrow next to the words Privacy & Security and click on the word Cookies. Then click on the Manage Stored Cookies button.
  5. In the Cookie Manager window, click on the Remove All Cookies button. Then click the Close button.
  6. In the Preferences window, click on the word Forms (under Privacy & Security). Then click on the Manage Stored Form Data button.
  7. In the Form Manager window, click on the Remove All Saved Data button. Then click the OK button. 
  8. In the Preferences window, click on the Manage Sites button.  
  9. In the Form Manager window, click on the Forms Never Saved tab and then click on the Remove All button. You may also need to click on the Forms Never Previewed tab and click on the Remove All button again.
  10. In the Preferences window, click the OK button to close the window. 
  11. Next, choose Download Manager from the Tools menu. 
  12. In the Download Manager window, click on one item and then hit control-A on your keyboard (hit both the control key and the A key at the same time; on Macintosh, hit apple-A). This will select all the files in the list. Then click on the Remove From List button.
  13. Close the Download Manager window.

Mozilla for Windows

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In order to delete your browser history, cache, cookies, web form data and download history, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu.
  2. In the Preferences window, click the arrow next to the word Navigator and click on the word History. Then click on the Clear History button and the Clear Location Bar button.
  3. Click the arrow next to the word Advanced and click on the word Cache. Then click on the Clear Memory Cache button and the Clear Disk Cache button.
  4. Click the arrow next to the words Privacy & Security and click on the word Cookies. Then click on the Manage Stored Cookies button.
  5. In the Cookie Manager window, click on the Remove All Cookies button. Then click the Close button.  
  6. In the Preferences window, click on the word Forms (under Privacy & Security). Then click on the Manage Stored Form Data button.
  7. In the Form Manager window, click on the Remove All Saved Data button. Then click the OK button.
  8. In the Preferences window, click on the Manage Sites button.
  9. In the Form Manager window, click on the Forms Never Saved tab and then click on the Remove All button.
    You may also need to click on the Forms Never Previewed tab and click on the Remove All button again.
  10. In the Preferences window, click the OK button to close the window. 
  11. Next, choose Download Manager from the Tools menu. 
  12. In the Download Manager window, click on one item and then hit control-A on your keyboard (hit both the control key and the A key at the same time; on Macintosh, hit apple-A). This will select all the files in the list. Then click on the Remove From List button.
  13. Close the Download Manager window.

Safari 3 for Apple Macintosh

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In order to delete your browser history, cache, cookies, web form data and download history, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Clear History from the History menu.
  2. Choose Preferences from the Safari menu.
  3. Click on the Security lock icon, then click on the Show Cookies button.
  4. Click on the Remove All button, then click on the Done button.
  5. Click on the AutoFill icon, then click on the Edit button next to the words Other Forms.
  6. Click on the Remove All button, then click on the Done button. Then close the Preferences window.
  7. Choose Empty Cache from the Safari menu. Click OK on the confirmation window.
  8. Choose Downloads from the Window menu.
  9. Click on the Clear button in the Downloads window.

AOL for Windows

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Take the following steps to clear AOL’s browser cache:

  1. Go to ‘Start’ – ‘Programs’ – ‘AOL’ – ‘AOL System Information’.
  2. Click the ‘Utilities’ tab at the top of the window.
  3. Click the ‘Clear Browser Cache’ button. The ‘Current Cache Size’ will change to 0 KB.
  4. Now close the AOL System Information window by clicking the ‘X’ in the top right-hand corner of the window.
  5. Connect to AOL to see if this has solved the problem. If not, try the following alternative method.

If ‘AOL System Information’ is not listed in the ‘Programs’ menu:

  1. Sign on to AOL as normal.
  2. Go to AOL Keyword: ‘Preferences’.
  3. Click ‘Internet Properties (WWW)’ – This will open the ‘Internet Options’ window.
  4. Click ‘Delete Files’ and then click OK to delete your temporary Internet files.
  5. Now click OK to close the ‘Internet Options’ window.

3. Find and delete other files created by your browser

Some web browser plug-ins and other features may create other files. Read each of the guides listed below in order to remove these files:

Macromedia Flash Files for Windows

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Under certain circumstances, Macromedia Flash can create files on your computer. The files are actually created to protect your privacy by allowing you to decide which websites can use certain features in Flash. But, because of the way this is currently done, if can also put you in greater danger because your abuser can find these files.

These files are not created automatically. They are created when you right-click on a Flash movie and choose Settings.

In other words, if you don’t right click on Flash movies, you should be fine.

However, if you have accidentally right-clicked on any Flash movies, you should follow the instructions below.

  1. Open your Documents and Settings Folder. Usually, this will be here.
    C:Documents and Settings
  2. Open your user folder.
    You may have only one user folder or there may be many. If you are unsure which folder is your user folder, follow these steps for all the folders. You shouldn’t need to bother with “Administrator” or “All Users” folders.
  3. In your user folder, open the following folders:
    Application Data > Macromedia > Flash Player > macromedia.com > flashplayer >sys
  4. Select ALL the files in that folder, right-click on them and choose Delete from the pop-up menu.
  5. Click Yes in the confirmation window.
  6. Go to your Desktop, right-click on your Recycle Bin and choose Empty Recycle Bin from the pop-up menu.

Macromedia Flash files for Apple Macintosh

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Under certain circumstances, Macromedia Flash can create files on your computer. The files are actually created to protect your privacy by allowing you to decide which websites can use certain features in Flash. But, because of the way this is currently done, if can also put you in greater danger because your abuser can find these files.

These files are not created automatically. They are created when you control-click (or right-click, if you have a right mouse button) on a Flash movie and choose Settings…

In other words, if you don’t control-click or right-click on Flash movies, you should be fine.

However, if you accidentally control- or right-clicked on any Flash movies, you should follow the instructions below.

  1. Open your Home Folder. Usually, you can click on the Home icon in a Finder window.
  2. Once you are in your Home Folder, open these folders:
    Library > Preferences > Macromedia > Flash Player > macromedia.com > support > flashplayer > sys
  3. Select ALL the files in that folder by hitting apple-a (hold down the Apple key and the A key at the same time).
  4. Move the files to the trash. You can do this quickly by hitting apple-backspace (hold down the Apple key and the Backspace key at the same time) on your keyboard.
  5. Empty your Trash by hitting apple-shift-backspace (hold down the Apple key, the Shift key and the Backspace key at the same time) on your keyboard.
  6. Click OK in the Empty Trash confirmation window.

4. Erase search words

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”.

Internet via your mobile phone

More people are using mobile phones to browse the internet for information every day. If you’re using a mobile phone, you will want to read the guides below to protect yourself.

Generic mobile browser

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In order to delete your mobile browser history follow these steps:

  1. 1. When your mobile web browser is open, from the main window select ‘Menu’ or ‘Options’
  2. From here, select ‘History’.
  3. Once the ‘History’ window opens, select ‘Clear’, ‘Reset’ or ‘Remove’.
  4. You will be advised that you are about to clear your browsing history, and asked to confirm that you wish to continue.
  5. Press ‘Yes’.
  6. Your mobile web browsing history should now be deleted. To confirm this – follow the steps above to get to your ‘History’ folder – which should be empty.

Apple iPhone browser

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  1. Press the ‘bookmark’ icon (shaped like the pages of an open book)
  2. Press ‘History’ – which should be at the top of your Bookmarks window.
  3. Press ‘Clear’ which should be at the bottom left of the ‘History’ window.
  4. Confirm that you want to clear your iPhone browsing history by pressing ‘Clear History’.
  5. Your browser history should now be empty.

Windows Mobile browser

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How to clear internet history:

  1. 1. In Internet Explorer Mobile, select ‘Menu’, then ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’, then ‘Memory’ (or, in some versions, select just ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’).
  2. Press the ‘Clear History’ button (or, in some versions, highlight ‘History’ and select ‘Clear’).

How to delete temporary internet files:

  1. In Internet Explorer Mobile, select ‘Menu’, then ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’, then ‘Memory’ (or, in some versions, select ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’, then ‘Memory’).
  2. Tap the ‘Delete Files’ button (or, in some phones, you will need to highlight ‘Temporary Files’ and select ‘Clear’).
  3. All pages stored on your device should now be deleted (including any pages saved for offline reading).

How to delete ‘cookies’:

  1. In Internet Explorer Mobile, select ‘Menu’, then ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’, then ‘Security’ (or, in some versions, select ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’, then ‘Advanced’ or ‘Menu’, then ‘Tools’, then ‘Options’).
  2. Press the ‘Clear Cookies’ button to remove any cookies on your phone (or, in some versions, select ‘Memory’, highlight ‘Cookies’ and select ‘Clear’).

Note: As there are multiple different versions of Windows available for mobile phones (Mobile, CE, etc), the above instructions relate only to Internet Explorer Mobile, and should be seen as general guidelines rather than specific instructions. Refer to your phone manual, or the help option within your browser for specific instructions.

Android browser

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Search History

To clear your search history:

  1. In the list of your previous searches, tap the ‘History’ link, and select ‘Clear History’.
  2. Select ‘OK’ to clear the displayed searches.

Note: This will only clear the searches that are displayed on your screen. If you want to manage the rest of your search history, follow the instructions below.

If you’re signed in to your Google Account:

  1. Tap ‘Settings’, then select the ‘Web History’ link to view and remove previously saved searches.
  2. If you don’t want your searches to be saved, tap ‘Settings’, then under the ‘Search History’ section select ‘Do not save searches’. Be sure to save your preferences.

If you’re not signed in to a Google Account:

  1. Tap ‘Settings’, then select ‘Clear saved searches’ to remove your previous searches.
  2. If you don’t want your searches to be saved, tap ‘Settings’, then under the ‘Search History ‘section select ‘Do not save searches’. Be sure to save your preferences.
Browser History

To clear your browser history, follow these steps:

  1. Open the browser on your Android device.
  2. Press the ‘Menu’ button.
  3. Tap ‘More’.
  4. Tap ‘Settings’.
  5. Scroll down the ‘Privacy settings’ and tap ‘Clear history’.
  6. Tap ‘OK’.

Note: If any unwanted history information is still appearing elsewhere, you may have to clear your cache and cookies from the same Privacy Settings menu. For more support and additional information, visit Google’s Android Help page.

Opera mobile browser

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In order to delete your mobile browser history follow these steps:

  1. When Opera Mini is open, from the main window select ‘Menu’.
  2. Then select ‘Tools’, and then ‘History’.
  3. Once the ‘History’ window opens, select ‘Clear’
  4. You will be advised that you are about to clear your browsing history, and asked to confirm that you wish to continue
  5. Press ‘Yes’
  6. Your Opera Mini browsing history has been deleted.

This information has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Sunflower Centre www.hertssunflower.org

© 2012