If you are being watched, the best practice is to use a safe computer – at a library, friend’s home, at work.
When you surf the internet, the web address of pages you visit are recorded automatically by the browser you are using, which could be Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or another. This is called ‘browser history’ and you can revisit most of the pages you have just left by clicking the back button. Even later, anyone can view the recorded ‘history’ and check which websites you have been visiting, unless you delete this record.
This means your computer activity can easily be tracked by your partner if the computer is shared or accessible to him.
There are many other computer locations where documents, images, pages, videos are automatically recorded. Unless you are an expert, it is virtually impossible to ‘clean’ the computer to remove all traces. Even so, there are certain safety measures you can take to maintain as much safety as possible.
Deleting browser records
In a limited way you can protect yourself by erasing ‘history’ or ‘cache’ after having accessed the information you want. Thereafter, it is advisable to create a history by visiting general non-controversial sites so your abuser doesn’t get suspicious about the lack of browsing records.
How to erase history and cache
This is simple work but each browser – Explorer, Chrome, Firefox etc – is different.
The instructions for individual browsers are given very clearly here - https://www.womensaid.ie/help/digitalabuse/browsing.html
Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer have Private Browsing facilities. If you select this mode of browsing no records of activity will be maintained. There will be no history and no cache buildup. This is as good as it can get but not failsafe. Remember that files, documents, images, videos may be stored in several locations in the computer.
Click under Safety – select InPrivate Browsing
Click on File(top left corner) – select New Private Window
Click the wrench icon (top right corner ) - select 'New incognito window'
Delete sensitive e-mails. Check all locations: ‘Send’or ‘Outbox’ and ‘Deleted Items’.
In addition, empty the “Recycle” or “Trash Bin” of any documents before shutting down the computer. Make this a regular routine so it is not an unusual action that may trigger suspicion.
Trash and recycle
Empty these ‘bins’ regularly, as a practice, before shutting down the computer.
Download and Temp files
Delete all files from these folders.
Search engine records
Search engines such as Google, AOL and Yahoo retain records of the searches you have made and the key words you have typed. Check instructions to delete this history.
Click on the Google icon – select’ Clear Search History’
Social networking sites
Anything you post on Facebook or other social networking sites is going to be public information. It is easy to bypass the security nets. Be cautious of what you say and where.
NNEDV (National Network to End Domestic Violence) has collaborated with Facebook to produce a guide ‘Privacy and Safety on Facebook, A Guide for Survivors of Abuse’ an essential reading for those who fear being stalked. Check it out : http://nnedv.org/downloads/SafetyNet/NNEDV_FB_Privacy_and_Safety_Guide_2014.pdf