Covering your tracks online
You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help from websites such as CORE Derbyshire.
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.
While you’re browsing – ‘Hide this site’ button
If you don’t want someone to see that you’re viewing the CORE Derbyshire website, you can click the ‘Hide this site’ button on the right, which will take you away from this site to the Google homepage.
If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, try keeping another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch to another window or tab.
Delete your browsing 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:
- Chrome: delete your browsing history
- Firefox: delete browsing, search and download history on Firefox
- Internet Explorer: deleting your web page history
- Safari: delete your browsing history
- Opera: deleting private data
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. In order to avoid creating cookies and histories, you can use private browsing modes on most browsers.
Private browsing (incognito)
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:
- Chrome: browse in private with incognito mode
- Firefox: private browsing – using Firefox without saving history
- Internet Explorer: InPrivate browsing
- Safari: use private browsing windows
- Opera: browse incognito – how to open private window
If you use a search toolbar in your web browser, remember that your searched items can be saved as part of your history. Find out how to delete your searched items from the following search engines:
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.
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.
All of the above 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 local library, a friend’s house, or at work.
The above information is taken from the Victim Support and Women’s Aid Websites.
Victim Support (2020) Covering your tracks online, https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/covering-your-tracks-online.
Any victim or witness of crime – including domestic abuse - can access free, confidential support through the Victim Support website or their 24-hour Supportline: 0808 168 9111
Women’s Aid (2019) Cover your tracks online, https://www.womensaid.org.uk/cover-your-tracks-online/.